(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Amazing Stories Volume 01 Number 01"

< Jlpril, 1926 



25 Cents 




* % % I 



PWHBWIBIHIBB! 



RADIO NEWS - SCIENCE & INVENTION 



PANY, NEW YORK. PUBLISHERS OF 
RADIO REVIEW - AMAZING STORIES - RADIO INTERNACIONAL 




Needs 
-Trained 



LARGEST RAD» EWQWfflW 



ORIGINATORS OF RADIO HOME -STUDY TRAINING 




They Called Me a Human Clam 

Butl Changed Mmost Overnight 



AS I passed the President's "f^ce I could 
not help bearing mv name. Instinct- 
ively 1 paused to listen. "Thai human 
clam," he was saying, "can't represent us. 
he's a hard worker, hot he seems to have no 
ability to express himself. 1 had hoped to 
make him a branch mana- 
ger this fall, but he yxms 
to withdraw farther and 
farther into his shell all 
the time. I've given up 
hopes of making anything 

So that was it! That 
was the reason why I had 
been passed over t'.mc and 
again when promotions 
were being made! That 

plodder— a truck horse 
for our firm, cap.ihle of 
doing a lot of heavy work, 
but of no use where bril- 
liant performance was re- 
quired. I was a failure 
unless I could do what 
seemed impossible— learn 
to u»e words forrefully, 
effectively and convmc- 
ingly. 

In 15 Minutes a Day 

And then suddenly I discovered a new. easy 
method which made me a powerful speaker 
almost overnight. I learned how to bend 
others to my will, how to dominate one man 
or an audience of thousands. Soon I had 

on salary increases, promotion, popularity, 
power. Today I a'.ways have a ready flow 
of speech at my corr.roand. I am able U> rise 



to any occasion, to meet any emergency with 
just the right words. And I accomplished all 
this by developing the natural power of 
speech possessed by everyone, but cultivated 
by so few— By simply spending IS minutes a 
day in the privacy of my own home, on this 
most fascinating subject. 



Send For This Amazing Book 



How tu make a political = 
Ho* to tell entertaining s 
How to make aft-t -dinner 



elop jelf-tonfic 
ngthen your y, 



of a 



•It- 



There is no magic, no 
trick, no mystery about 
brooming a powerful and 
convincing talker. You, 
too, can conquer timidity, 



the shr-cr power al f.,r,viriri : , s <;n-rrh. Not only 
men who havr made : :!iliin:is ir.it Thousands have 
sent for this book— nn, i :■.?- ■ iT ,-'-i;i:- j i:< ilicir praise 



right, 



self-c 



nd bashful- 
ntss, winning advance- 
ment in salary, popularity, 
social standing, and suc- 
cess. Today business de- 
mands for the big, impor- 
tant high-salaried jobs, 
men who can dominate 
other 5— men who can 
make others do as they 
wish. It is the power of 
forceful, convincing speech 




that 



i obsc 



the presidency of _ „. 
corporation; another from a small, unimport- 
ant territory to a salcsmanager's desk: an- 
other from the rank and file of political 
workers to a post of national importance; a 
timid, retiring, self-conscious man to change 
almost overnight imo a popular and much 
applauded after-dinner speaker. Thousands 
have accomplished just such amazing things 
through this simple, casv, vet effective train- 
ing. 



NORTH AMERICAN INSTITUTE 

3601 Michigan Av«.. Dipt. 93H4, Chicago, tllinoit 

I North American Institute. 

■ 3B01 MichiBBn Ave., Dept. MS* | 

Chicago, Illinois. _' 

(iOD ,-,-,-' copy oTyoiir 'famous book, Hew' To ' 
| Work Wonders Wish Wordt. |i 






tClty - , .. State.. 



I 




Contents For April 




In Our Next Issue: 


Off on a Comet—or Hector Servadac 




"A TRIP TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH." 


By Jules Verne 


4 


by Jules Verne. Tliis book, comparatively little known, 




is one o[ the most important of Verne's works. It holds 


The New Accelerator 




your interest from beginning to cud, and is by far the 


By H. G. Wells _ 


57 


greatest work on this topic— namely tile exploration of 
the earth's center — that has ever appeared. 


The Man From the Atom 






By G. Peyton IV ertenbaker 


62 


"THE CRYSTAL EGG," by H. G. Wells. One of (fee 
most ama/ins tales ever wriilni bv Wells. A storv von 


The Thing From — Outside 




will long remember by this master of scientifiction. 




67 


"THE RUNAWAY SKYSCRAPER," by Murray 


The Man Who Saved the Earth 




Lcinstcr. A story of the Fourth Dimension, in which 


By Justin Hall 


74 


the 50-story 11 c:ropr.ilitaii f.ife skyscriiiier vanishes into 
the Fourth Dimension. One of the most surprising tales 


The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar 




we have ever read. 


By Edgar Allan Poe 


92 


"WHISPERING ETHER," by Charles S. Wolfe, a 


OUR COVER 




radio story that holds your iutcrc-l and is responsible 


Dci-IclE an falerisnfls «™c <™ n " 0ff on i Cnmct" v 


this 


for a good deal of .cot ;i: flesh and chills running tip and 






down your spine. 


COPYRIGHT ACKNOWLEDGMENT 




"OFF ON A COMET," by Jules Verne (Conclusion). 


"Off on a Comet." by Jules Verne, copyright 1911 


by 


A number of other short stories by well-known 


Vincent Parke & Co., (Parke, Austin & Lipscomb Co.) 


scientifiction writers. 


HOW to sr-ns-'ruir.E rnn ".\v.\v.:sr, ^TPitiFS." soml ymir 


MM, 


MHtj«H ar >»rt»! rn.Wed nfl rate Stud MUl ft* rlut. nit Mid 














ii..rll.n-TI1.-r 1'1,'iiii-liii „-"<'„.. ]=!-. I!.:, ■-■.:, ii.n' -! 1rr ,','; ,:„. r::,';-,- 






i'vVKvi'r(iN. 1 '[I.\IMl'i FiV.VM^r'' ;i! "'.r!i^Vl\VV.STOtN"ri0>\"? 


'Su* 


'■ .1 "i 1 ■ ■ '.■■:■■■■ . f, ■, !■ ■■ ■!.,.. 1 


,,„»,,„ .,„ ,. „.* * mm. „,„ ... ..., „..„„„.„ 




19 EO. It M)W K«f.1 «•*• W nuiu <m Mm SmS S our records. 


tuvKino stories i, ratioatd 01 ti.c mih n r cich naia 




UU«»i TOW*. M , A**! , ta «* , .„,, 
















"Din, 


"■Ill ■■■■■ ■' ■■■ 'i ■ !■!■■ "■ !■■:■ ■:■ ■ '■ ' ■■■,. ■ v.. 


















*Stt>& S. -T. Wist El Hi, 40 l'Lra Verio. Anlmerji. Bc-ldum. lYLnLcl 


















/v ). r;. -.■'■. h. ; V :( "",,;-'S;:,:i^,. c.-.r. 












Davids & 'Dillon. I5W It . 




April, 1926 
No. 1. 



THE 

MAGAZINE 

OF 

SCIENTIFICTION 



HUGO GERNSBACK, F.R.S., Editor 
DR. T. O'CONOR SLOANE, M.A., Ph.D. ; Managing Editor 
and Central Offices 53 Park Place. New York. N. 



Extravagant Fiction Today ------- Cold Fact Tomorrow 

A NEW SORT OF MAGAZINE 

By HUGO GERNSBACK, F.R.S. 




|NOTHER fiction magazine! 

At first thought it does seem impos- 
sible that there could be room for an- 
other fiction magazine in this country. 
The reader may well wonder, "Aren't 
there enough already, with the several 
hundreds now being published?" True. But this is 
not "another fiction magazine," Amazing Stories is 
a nevj kind of fiction magazine! It is entirely new 
— entirely different — something that has never been 
done before in this country. Therefore, Amazing 
Stories deserves your attention and interest. 

There is the usual fiction magazine, the love story 
and the sex-appeal type of magazine, the adventure 
type, and so on, but a magazine of "Scientifiction" is 
a pioneer in its field in America. 

By "scientifiction" I mean the Jules Verne, H. G. 
Wells, and Edgar Allan Poe type of story— a charm- 
ing romance intermingled with scientific fact and 
prophetic vision. For many years stories of this 
nature were published in the sister magazines of 
Amazing Stories — "Science & Invention" and 
"Radio News." 

But with the ever increasing demands on us for 
this sort of story, and more of it, there was only one 
thing to do- — publish a magazine in which the scien- 
tific fiction type of story will hold forth exclusively. 
Toward that end we have laid elaborate plans, spar- 
ing neither time nor money. 

Edgar Allan Poe may well be called the father of 
"scientifiction." It was he who really originated the 
romance, cleverly weaving into and around the story, 
a scientific thread. Jules Verne, with his amazing 
romances, also cleverly interwoven with a scientific 
thread, came next. A little later came H. G. Wells, 
whose scientifiction stories, like those of his fore- 
runners, have become famous and immortal. 

It must be remembered that we live in an entirely 
new world. Two hundred years ago, stories of this 
kind were not possible. Science, through its various 
branches of mechanics, electricity, astronomy, etc., 
enters so intimately into all our lives today, and we 
are so much immersed in this science, that we have 
become rather prone to take new inventions and dis- 
coveries for granted. Our entire mode of living baa 
changed with the present progress, and it is little 
wonder, therefore, that many fantastic situations — 
impossible 100 years ago — are brought about today. 



It is in these situations that the new romancers find 
their great inspiration. 

Not only do these amazing tales make tremendous- 
ly interesting reading — they are also always instruc- 
tive. They supply knowledge that we might not 
otherwise obtain — and they supply it in a very pal- 
atable form. For the best of these modern writers 
of scientifiction have the knack of imparting knowl- 
edge, and even inspiration, without once making us 
aware that we are being taught. 

Arid not only that! Poe, Verne, Wells, Bellamy, 
and many others have proved themselves real proph- 
ets. Prophesies made in many of their most amaz 
ing stories are being realized — and have been real- 
ized. Take the fantastic submarine of Jules Verne's 
most famous story, "Twenty Thousand Leagues 
Under the Sea" for instance. He predicted the pres- 
ent day submarine almost down to the last bolt ! New 
inventions pictured for us in the scientifiction of to- 
day are not at all impossible of realization tomorrow. 
Many great science stories destined to be of an his- 
torical interest are still to be written, and Amazing 
Stories magazine will be the medium through which 
such stories will come to you. Posterity will point to 
them as having blazed a new trail, not only in lit- 
erature and fiction^ but in progress as well. 

We who are publishing Amazing Stories realize 
the great responsibility of this undertaking, and will 
spare no energy in presenting to you, each month, 
the very best of this sort of literature there is to 
offer. 

Exclusive arrangements have already been made 
with the copyright holders of the entire voluminous 
works of ALL of Jules Verne's immortal stories. 
Many of these stories are not known to the general 
American public yet. For the first time they will be 
within easy reach of every reader through Amazing 
Stories. A number of German, French and English 
stories of this kind by the best writers in their re- 
spective countries, have already been contracted for 
and we hope very shortly to be able to enlarge the 
magazine and in that way present always more ma- 
terial to our readers. 

How good this magazine will be in the future is 
up to you. Bead Amazing Stories — get your friends 
to read it and then write us what you think of it. 
We will welcome constructive criticism — for only in 
this way will we know how to satisfy you. 



Off On sl Comet 

Jules 
Verne 




Introduction to the Story 



sfMONG so many effective and artistic tales 
Sjfof our author, it is difficult to give a prefer- 
•*• "* ence to one over ail the rest. Yet, certainly, 
even amid Verne's most remarkable works, his "Off 
on a Comet" must be given high rank. Perhaps this 
story will be remembered when some of his greatest 
efforts Iiave been obliterated by centuries of time. 
At least, of the many books since written upon the 
same theme as Verne's, no one has yet equaled or 
even approached it. 

In one -way "Off on a Comet" shows a marked 
contrast to Verne's earlier books. Not only does it 
invade a region of remotest space, but the author 
here abandons his usual scrupulously scientific at- 



titude and gives his fancy freer rcht In order that 
he may escort us through the depths of immeasur- 
able space, to show us what astronomy really knows 
of conditions there and upon the other planets, 
Verne asks us to accept a situa,tion which is in a 
sense self -contradictory. The earth and a comet are 
brought ttoice into collision without mankind in gen- 
eral, or even- our astronomers, becoming conscious 
of the fact. Moreover several people from loidely 
scattered places are carried off by the comet and 
returned uninjured. Yet further, the comet snatch- 
es and carries away -with it for the convenience of 
its travelers, both air and water. Little, useful 
tracts of earth arc picked zip and, as it were, turned 



OFF ON A COMET 



over and clapped down right side up again upon the 
comefs surface. Even skips pass uninjured through, 
this remarkable somersault. These events all belong 
to the realm of fairyland. 

If the situation were reproduced in actuality, if 
ever a comet should come into collision with the 
earth, we can conceive two scientifically possible 
results. If the comet were of suck attenuation, such 
almost infinitesimal mass as sonie of these celestial 
wanderers seem to be, we can imagine our earth self- 
protective and possibly unharmed. If, on the other 
hand, the comet had even a hundredth part of the 
size and solidity and weigkt which Verne confers 
upon his monster so as to give his travelers a home — 
in that case the collision would be unspeakably dis- 
astrous — especially to the itjiht<:ky individuals who 
occupied the exact point of contact. 

But mice granted the initial and the closing ex- 
travagance, the departure and return of his diame- 
ters, the alpha and omega of his tale, how closely the 



author clings to facts between! How closely he fol- 
lows, and. imparts to his readers, the scientific proba- 
bilities of the universe beyond our earth, the actual 
knowledge so hard won by our astronomers'. Other 
authors who, since Verne, have told of trips through 
the planetary and stellar universe have given free 
rein to fancy, to dreams of what might be found. 
Verne has endeavored to impart only what is known 
to exist. 

In the same year with "Off on a Comet," 1877, was 
published also the tale variously named and trans- 
lated as "The Black Indies," "The Underground 
City," and "The Child of the Cavern," This story, 
like "Round the World in Eighty Days" was first 
issued in "feuilleton" by the noted Paris newspaper 
"he Temps." Its success did not equal that of its 
predecessor in this style. Some critics indeed have 
pointed to this work as marking the beginning of a 
decline in the author's power of awaking interest. 
Many of his best works were, however, still to follow. 



Off On a Comet 

Or Hector Servadac 

By JULES VERNE 
Bookl 



CHAPTER I 

A CHALLENGE 

gjOTHING, sir, can induce me to surrender 
my claim." 

"I am sorry, count, but in such a mat- 
ter your views cannot modify mine." 
"But allow me to point out that my 
seniority unquestionably gives me a prior right." 

"Mere seniority, I assert, in an affair of this kind, 
cannot possibly entitle you to any prior claim what- 
ever." 

"Then, captain, no alternative is left but for me 
to compel you to yield at the sword's point." 

"As you please, count; but neither sword nor 
pistol can force me to forego my pretensions. Here 
is my card." 
"And mine." 

This rapid altercation was thus brought to an 
end by the formal interchange of the names of the 
disputants. On one of the cards was inscribed: 
Captain, Hector Servadac, 

Staff Officer, Mostaganem. 
On the other was the title : 

Count Wassili Timascheff, 

On board the Schooner "Dobryna." 
It did not take long to arrange that seconds 
should be appointed, who would meet in Mostaga- 
nem at two o'clock that day; and the captain and 
the count were on the point of parting from each 
other, with a salute of punctilious courtesy, when 
Timascheff, as if struck by a sudden thought, said 
abruptly: "Perhaps it would be better, captain, 
not to allow the real cause of this to transpire." 

"Far better," replied Servadac; "it is undesirable 
in every way for any names to be mentioned." 

"In that case, however," continued the count, "it 
will be necessary to assign an ostensible pretext 



of some kind. Shall we allege a musical dispute— 
a contention in which I feel bound to defend Wag- 
ner, while you are the 2ealous champion of Ros- 
sini?" 

"I am quite content," answered Servadac, with a 
smile ; and with another low bow they parted. 

The scene as here depicted, took place upon the 
extremity of a little cape on the Algerian coast, 
between Mostaganem and Tenea, about two miles 
from the mouth of the Shelif. The headland rose 
more than sixty feet above the sea-level, and the 
azure waters of the Mediterranean, as they softly 
kissed the strand, were tinged with the reddish hue 
of the ferriferous rocks that formed its base. It 
was the 31st of December. The noontide sun, which 
usually illuminated the various projections of the 
coast with a dazzling brightness, was hidden by 
a dense mass of cloud, and the fog, which for some 
unaccountable cause, had hung for the last two 
months over nearly every region in the world, caus- 
ing serious interruption to traffic between continent 
and continent, spread its dreary veil across land 
and sea. 

After taking leave of the staff-officer, Count 
Wassili Timascheff wended his way down to a small 
creek, and took his seat in the stern of a light 
four-oar that had been awaiting his return; this 
was immediately pushed off from shore, and was 
soon alongside a pleasure-yacht, that was lying to, 
not many cable lengths away. 

At a sign from Servadac, an orderly, who had 
been standing at a respectful distance, led forward 
a magnificent Arabian horse; the captain vaulted 
into the saddle, and followed by his attendant, well 
mounted as himself, started off towards Mostag- 
anem. It was half-past twelve when the two riders 
crossed the bridge that had been recently erected 
over the Shelif, and a quarter of an hour later their 



AMAZING STORIES 



steeds, flecked with foam, dashed through the Mas- 
cara Gate, which was one of five entrances opened 
in the embattled wall that encircled the town. 

At that date, Mostaganem contained about fifteen 
thousand inhabitants, three thousand of whom 
were French. Besides being one of the principal 
district towns of the province of Oran, it was also 
a military station. Mostaganem rejoiced in a well- 
sheltered harbor, which enabled it to utilize all 
the rich products of the Mina and the Lower Shelif . 
It was the existence of so good a harbor amidst 
the exposed cliffs of this coast chat had induced the 
owner of the Dobrijna to winter in these parts, and 
for two months the Russian standard had been seen 
floating from her yard, whilst on her mast-head was 
hoisted the pennant of the French Yacht Club, with 
the distinctive letters H. C. W. T., the initials of 
Count Timascheff. 

Having entered the town, Captain Servadac made' 
his way towards Matmore, the military quarter, 
and was not long in finding two friends on whom 
he might rely — a major of the 2nd Fusileers, and a 
captain of the Sth Artillery. The two officers list- 
ened gravely enough to Servadac's request that they 
would act as his seconds in an affair of honor, but 
could not resist a smile on hearing that the dispute 
between him and the connt had originated in a mu- 
sical discussion. Surely, they suggested, the matter 
might be easily arranged; a few slight concessions 
on either side, and all might be amicably adjusted. 
But no representations on their part were of any 
avail. Hector Servadac was inflexible. 

"No concession is possible," he replied, resolutely. 
"Rossini has been deeply injured, and I cannot suf- 
fer the injury to be unavenged. Wagner ia a fool. 
I shall keep my word. I am quite firm." 

"Ee it so, then," replied one of the officers; "and 
after all, you know, a sword-cut need not be a very 



"Certainly not," rejoined Servadac; "and espe- 
cially in my case, when I have not the slightest 
intention of being wounded at all." 

Incredulous as they naturally were as to the 
assigned cause of the quarrel, Servadac's friends 
had no alternative but to accept his explanation, 
and without further parley they started for the 
staff office, where, at two o'clock precisely, they 
were to meet the seconds of Count Timascheff. Two 
hours later they had returned. All the prelimin- 
aries had been arranged; the count, who like many 
Russians abroad was an aide-de-camp of the Czar, 
had of course proposed swords as the most appro- 
priate weapons, and the duel was to take place on 
the following morning, the first of January, at nine 
o'clock, upon the cliff at a spot about a mile and 
a half from the mouth of the Shelif. With the as- 
surance that they would not fail to keep their 
appointment with military punctuality, the two offi- 
cers cordially wrung their friend's hand and retired 
to the Zulma Cafe" for a game at piquet. Captain 
Servadac at once retraced his steps and left the 
town. 

For the last fortnight Servadac had not been 
occupying his proper lodgings in the military quar- 
ters; having been appointed to make a local levy, 
h» had been living in a gourbi, or native hut, on 
the Mostaganem coast, between four and five miles 
from the Shelif. Hi3 orderly was his sole com- 



panion, and by any other man than the captain the 
enforced exile would have been esteemed little short 
of a severe penance. 

On his way to the gourbi, his mental occupation 
was a very laborious effort to put together what he 
was pleased to call a rondo, upon a model of versi- 
fication all but obsolete. This rondo, it is unneces- 
sary to coneal, was to be an ode addressed to a 
young widow by whom he had been captivated, and 
whom he was anxious to marry, and the tenor of his 
muse was intended to prove that when once a man 
has found an object in all respects worthy of his af- 
fections he should love her "in all simplicity." 
Whether the aphorism was universally true was 
not very material to the gallant captain, whose sole 
ambition at present was to construct a roundelay of 
which this should be the prevailing sentiment. He 
indulged the fancy that he might succeed in produc- 
ing a composition which would have a fine effect 
here in Algeria, where poetry in that form was all 
but unknown. 

"I know well enough," he said repeatedly to him- 
self, "what I want to say. I want to tell her that 
I love her sincerely, and wish to marry her; but, 
confound it! the words won't rhyme. Plague on it! 
Does nothing rhyme with 'simplicity'? Ah! I have 
it now: 

'Lovers should, whoe'er they be. 
Love in all simplicity.' 
Eut what next? how am I to go on? I say, Ben 
Zoof," he called aloud to his oitlerly, who was trot- 
ting silently close in his rear, "did you ever compose 
any poetry?" 

"No, captain," answered the man promptly: "I 
have never made any verses, but I have seen them 
made fast enough at a booth during the fete of 
Montmartre," 

"Can you remember them?" 

"Remember them! to be sure I can. This is the 
way they began : 

'Come in! come in! you'll not repent 
The entrance money you have spent; 
The wondrous mirror in this place. 
Reveals your future sweetheart's face.'" 

"Bosh!" cried Servadac in disgust; "your verses 
are detestable trash." 

"As good as any others, captain, squeaked 
through a reed pipe." 

"Hold your tongue, man," said Servadac per- 
emptorily; "I have made another couplet. 
'Lovers should, whoe'er they be, 
Love in all simplicity; 
Lover, loving honestly. 
Offer I myself to thee." 

Beyond this, however, the captain's poetical 
genius was impotent to carry him; his further ef- 
forts were unavailing, and when at six o'clock he 
reached the gourbi, the four lines still remained the 
limit of his composition. 

CHAPTER II 
CAPTAIN SERVADAC AND HIS ORDERLY 

At the time of which I write, there might be seen 
in the registers of the Minister of War the following 
entry : 

Servadac (Hector), born at St. Trelody in the 
district of Lesparre, department of the Gironde, 
July 19th, 18—. 

Property: 1200 francs in rentes. 



OFF ON A COMET 



Length of service: Fourteen years, three months, 
and five days. ( 

Service: Two years at school at St. Cyr; two 
years at L'licole d' Application; two years in the 
8th Regiment of the Line; two years in the 3rd 
Light Cavalry; seven years in Algeria, 

Campaigns : Soudan and Japan. 

Rank : Captain on the staff at Mostaganem. 

Decorations: Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, 
March 13th, 18—. 

Hector Servadac was thirty years of age, an 
orphan without lineage and almost without means. 
Thirsting for glory rather than for gold, slightly 
scatter-brained, but warm-hearted, generous, and 
brave, he was eminently fitted to be the protege 
of the god of battles. 

For the first year and a half of his existence he 
had been the foster-child of the sturdy wife of a 
vine-dresser of Medoc — a lineal descendant of the 
heroes of ancient prowess; in a word, he was one 
of those individuals whom nature seems to have 
predestined for remarkable things, and around 
whose cradle have hovered the fairy god-mothers 
of adventure and good luck. 

In appearance Hector Servadac was quite the type 
of an officer ; he was rather more than five feet six 
inche3 high, slim and graceful, with dark curling 
hair and mustaches, well-formed hands and feet, 
and a clear blue eye. He seemed born to please 
without being conscious of the power he possessed. 
It must be owned, and no one was more ready to 
confess it than himself, that his literary attain- 
ments were by no means of a high order. "We don't 
spin tops" is a favorite saying amongst artillery 
officers, indicating that they do not shirk their duty 
for frivolous pursuits ; but it must be confessed that 
Servadac, being naturally idle, was very much given 
to "spinning tops." His good abilities, however, 
and his ready intelligence had carried him success- 
fully through the curriculum of his early career. 
He was a good draughtsman, an excellent rider — 
having thoroughly mastered the successor to the fa- 
mous "Uncle Tom" at the riding-school of St. Cyr 
— and in the records of his military service his name 
had several times been included in the order of the 
day. 

The following episode may suffice, in a certain 
degree, to illustrate his character. Once, in action, 
he was leading a detachment of infantry through 
an intrenchment. They came to a place where the 
side-work of the trench had been so riddled by shell 
that a portion of it had actually fallen in, leaving 
an aperture quite unsheltered from the grape-shot 
that was pouring in thick and fast. The men hesi- 
tated. In an instant Servadac mounted the side- 
work, laid himself down in the gap, and thus filling 
up the breach by his own body, shouted, "March 
on!" 

And through a storm of shot, not one of which 
touched the prostrate officer, the troop passed in 
safety. 

Since leaving the military college, Servadac, with 
the exception of his two campaigns in the Soudan 
and Japan, had been always stationed in Algeria. 
He had now a staff appointment at Mostaganem, 
and had lately been entrusted with some topograph- 
ical work on the coast between Tenes and the 9helif. 
It was a matter of little consequence to him that 



the gourbj, in which of necessity he was quartered, 
was uncomfortable and ill-contrived; he loved the 
open air, and the independence of his life suited 
him well. Sometimes he would wander on foot upon 
the sandy shore, and sometimes he would enjoy a 
ride along the summit of the cliff; altogether being 
in no hurry at all to bring his task to an end. His 
occupation, moreover, was not so engrossing but 
that he could find leisure for taking a short railway 
journey once or twice a week ; so that he was ever 
and again putting in an appearance at the general's 
receptions at Oran, and at the fetes given by the 
governor at Algiers. 

It was on one of these occasions that he had first 

met Madame de L , the lady to whom he was 

desirous of dedicating the rondo, the first four lines 
of which had just seen the light. She was a colonel's 
widow, young and handsome, very reserved, not to 
say haughty in her manner, and either indifferent 
or impervious to the admiration which she inspired. 
Captain Servadac had not yet ventured to declare 
his attachment; of rivals he was well aware he had 
not a few, and amongst these not the least formid- 
able was the Russian Count Timasheff . And although 
the young widow was all unconscious of the share 
she had in the matter, it was she, and she alone, 
who was the cause of the challenge just given and 
accepted by her two ardent admirers. 

During his residence in the gourbi. Hector Serva- 
dac's sole companion was his orderly, Een Zoof. Ben 
Zoof was devoted, body and soul, to his superior 
officer. His own personal ambition was so entirely 
absorbed in his master's welfare, that it is certain 
no offer of promotion— even had it been that of 
aide-de-camp to the Governor-General of Algiers — 
would have induced him to quit that master's serv- 
ice. His name might seem to imply that he was a 
native of Algeria; but such was by no means the 
case. His true name was Laurent; he was a native 
of Montmartre in Paris, and how or why he had 
obtained his patronymic was one of those anomalies 
which the most sagacious of etymologists would 
find it hard to explain. 

Born on the hill of Montmartre, between the 
Solferino tower and the mill of La Galette, Ben 
Zoof had ever possessed the most unreserved ad- 
miration for his birthplace; and to his eyes the 
heights and district of Montmartre represented an 
epitome of all the wonders of the world. In all his 
travels, and these had been not a few, he had never 
beheld scenery which could compete with that of hi3 
native home. No cathedral — not even Burgos itself 
— could vie with the church at Montmartre. Its 
race-course could well hold its own against that at 
Pentelique ; its reservoir would throw the Mediter- 
ranean into the shade; its forests had flourished 
long before the invasion of the Celts; and its very 
mill produced no ordinary flour, but provided ma- 
terial for cakes of world-wide renown. To crown 
all, Montmartre boasted a mountain — a veritable 
mountain; envious tongues indeed might pronounce 
it little more than a hill; but Ben Zoof would have 
allowed himself to be hewn in pieces r'ather than 
admit that it was anything less than fifteen thou- 
sand feet in height. 

Ben Zoof's most ambitious desire was to induce 
the captain to go with him and end his days in hi3 
much-loved home, and so incessantly were Serva- 



AMAZING STORIES 



dac's ears besieged with descriptions of the unpar- 
alleled beauties and advantages of this eighteenth 
arrondiaaement of Paris, that he could scarcely 
hear the name of Montmartre without a conscious 
thrill of aversion. Ben Zoof, however, did not des- 
pair of ultimately converting the captain, and 
meanwhile had resolved never to leave him. When 
a private in the 8th Cavalry, he had been on the 
point of quitting the army at twenty-eight years 
of age, but unexpectedly he had been appointed 
orderly to Captain Servadac. Side by side they 
fought in two campaigns. Servadac had saved Ben 
Zoof's life in Japan; Ben Zoof had rendered his 
master a like service in the Soudan. The bond of 
union thus effected could never be severed; and 
although Ben Zoof a achievements had fairly earned 
him the right of retirement, Ihe firmly declined all 
honors or any pension that might part him from his 
superior offieer. Two stout arms, an iron constitu- 
tion, a powerful frame, and an indomitable courage 
were all loyally devoted to his master's service, and 
fairly entitled him to his soi-disant designation or 
"The Rampart of Montmartre." Unlike his master, 
he made no pretension to any gift of poetic power, 
but hia inexhaustible memory made him a living en- 
cyclopiedia; and for Ihis stock of anecdotes and 
troopers's tales he was matchless. 

Thoroughly appreciating his servant's good qual- 
ities, Captain Servadac endured with imperturbable 
good humor those idiosyncrasies, which in a leas 
faithful follower would have been intolerable, and 
from time to time he would drop a word of sympa- 
thy that served to deepen his subordinate's devotion. 

On one occasion, when Ben Zoof had mounted hi3 
hobby-horse, and was indulging in high-flown 
praises about his beloved eighteenth arrondiase- 
ment, the captain had remarked gravely, "Do you 
know, Ben Zoof, that Montmartre only requires a 
matter of some thirteen thousand feet to make it 
as high as Mont Blanc?" 

Ben Zoof's eyes glistened with delight; and from 
that moment Hector Servadac and Montmartre held 
equal places in his affection. 



INTERRUPTED EFFUSIONS 

COMPOSED of mud and loose stones, and covered 
with a thatch of turf and straw, known to the na- 
tives by the name of "driss," the gourbi, though a 
grade better than the tents of the nomad Arabs, was 
yet far inferior to any habitation built of brick or 
stone. It adjoined an old stone hostelry, previously 
occupied by a detachment of engineers, and which 
now afforded shelter for Ben Zoof and the two 
horses. It still contained a considerable number 
of tools, such as mattocks, shovels, and pick-axes. 

Uncomfortable as was their temporary abode 
Servadac and his attendant made no complaints; 
neither of them was dainty in the matter either of 
board or lodging. After dinner, leaving his orderly 
to stow away the remains of the repast in what he 
waa pleased to term the "cupboard of his stomach," 
Captain Servadac turned out into the open air to 
smoke his pipe upon the edge of the cliff. The 
shades of night were drawing on. An hour previ- 
ously, veiled in heavy clouds, the sun had sunk 



below the horizon that bounded the plain beyond 
the Shelif. 

The sky presented a most singular appearance. 
Towards the north, although the darkness rendered 
it impoaaible to see beyond a quarter of a mile, the 
upper strata of the atmosphere were suffused with a 
rosy glare. No well-defined fringe of light, nor 
arch of luminous rays, betokened a display of aurora 
borealia, even had such a phenomenon been poaaible 
in these latitudes ; and the most experienced meteor- 
ologist would have been puzzled to explain the cause 
of this striking illumination on this 31st of Decem- 
ber, the last evening of the passing year. 

But Captain Servadac waa no meteorologist, and 
it is to be doubted whether, since leaving school, 
he had ever opened his "Course of Cosmography." 
Besides, he had other thoughts to occupy his mind. 
The prospects of the morrow offered serious matter 
for consideration. The captain was actuated by 
no personal animosity against the count; though 
rivals, the two men regarded each other with sin- 
cere respect; they had simply reached a criais in 
which one of them was de trap; which of them, fate 
must decide. 

At eight o'clock. Captain Servadac re-entered the 
gourbi, the single apartment of which contained hia 
bed, a small writing-table, and some trunks that 
served instead of cupboards. The orderly perform- 
ed his culinary operations in the adjoining build- 
ing, which he also used as a bed-room, and where, 
extended on what he called his "good oak mattress," 
he would sleep soundly as a doormouse for twelve 
hours at a stretch. Ben Zoof had not yet received 
his orders to retire, and ensconcing himself in a 
corner of the gourbi, he endeavored to doze — a task 
which the unusual agitation of his master rendered 
somewhat difficult. Captain Servadac was evidently 
in no hurry to betake himself to reat, but seating 
himself at his table, with a pair of compasses and a 
sheet of drawing-paper, he began to draw, with red 
and blue crayons, a variety of colored lines, which 
could hardly be supposed to have much connection 
with a topographical survey. In truth, his char- 
acter of staff-officer waa now entirely absorbed in 
that of Gascon poet. Whether he imagined that the 
compasses would bestow upon his verses the meas- 
ure of a mathematical accuracy, or whether he fan- 
cied that the parti -colored lines would lend variety 
to his rhythm, it 13 impossible to determine; be that 
as it may, he was devoting all his energies to the 
compilation of his rondo, and supremely difficult he 
found the task. 

"Hang it!" he ejaculated, "whatever induced me 
to choose this meter? It is as hard to find rhymes 
as to rally fugitives in a battte. But, by all the 
powers .' it shan't be said that a French officer cannot 
cope with a piece of poetry. One battalion has 
fought— now for the rest!" 

Perseverance had its reward. Presently two 
lines, one red, the other blue, appeared upon the 
paper, and the captain murmured: 

"Words, mere words, cannot avail. 
Telling true heart'3 tender tale." 

"What on earth ails my master?" muttered Ben 
Zoof; "for the last hour he has been as fidgety as 
a bird returning after its winter migration." 

Servadac suddenly started from his seat, and as 



OFF ON A COMET 



he paced the room with all the frenzy of poetic in- 
spiration, read out: 

"Empty words cannot convey 
All a lover's heart would say." 

"Well, to he sure, he is at his everlasting verses 
again !" said Ben Zoof to himself, as he roused him- 
self in his corner. "Impossible to sleep in such a 
noise;" and he gave vent to a loud groan. 

"How now, Ben Zoof?" said the captain sharply. 
"What ails you?" 

"Nothing, sir, only the nightmare." 

"Curse the fellow, he has quite interrupted me!" 
ejaculated the captain. "Ben Zoof!" he called aloud, 

"Here, sir!" was the prompt reply; and in an 
instant the orderly was upon his feet, standing in a 
military attitude, one hand to his forehead, the 
other closely pressed to his trouser-seara. 

"Stay where you are! don't move an inch!" 
shouted Servadac ; "I have just thought of the end 
of my rondo." 

And in a voice of inspiration, accompanying his 
words with dramatic gestures, Servadac began to 
declaim : 

"Listen, lady, to my vows — 

0, consent to be my spouse; 

Constant ever I will be, 

Constant . . . ." 

No closing lines were uttered. All at once, with 
unutterable violence, the captain and his orderly 
were dashed, face downwards, to the ground. 

CHAPTER IV 
A CONVULSION OP NATURE 

Whence came it that at that very moment the 
horizon underwent so strange and sudden a modi- 
fication, that the eye of the most praticed mariner 
could not distinguish between sea and sky? 

Whence came it that the billows raged and rose 
to a height hitherto unregistered in the records of 
science? 

Whence came it that the elements united in one 
deafening crash ; that the earth groaned as though 
the whole framework of the globe were ruptured; 
that the waters roared from their innermost depths ; 
that the air shrieked with all the fury of a cyclone? 

Whence came it that a radiance, intenser than 
the effulgence of the Northern Lights, overspread 
the firmament, and momentarily dimmed the splen- 
dor of the brightest stars? 

Whence came it that the Mediterranean, one in- 
stant emptied of its waters, was the next flooded 
with a foaming surge? 

Whence came it that in the space of a few sec- 
onds the moon's disc reached a magnitude as though 
it were but a tenth part of its ordinary distance 
from the earth? 

Whence came it that a new blazing spheroid, 
hitherto unknown to astronomy, now appeared sud- 
denly in the firmament, though it were but to lose 
itself immediately behind masses of accumulated 
cloud ? 

What phenomenon was this that had produced a 
cataclysm so tremendous in effect upon earth, 3ky, 
and sea? 

Was it possible that a single human being could 
have survived the convulsion? and if so, could he 
explain its mystery? 



CHAPTER V 
A MYSTERIOUS SEA 



Violent as the commotion had been, that por- 
tion of the Algerian coast which is bounded on the 
north by the Mediterranean, and on the west by 
the right bank of the Shelif, appeared to have suf- 
fered little change. It is true that indentations 
were perceptible in the fertile plain, and the sur- 
face of the sea was ruffled with an agitation that 
was quite unusual; but the rugged outline of the 
cliff was the same as heretofore, and the aspect of 
the entire scene appeared unaltered. The stone 
hostelry, with the exception of some deep clefts in 
its walls, had sustained little injury; but the gourbi, 
like a house of cards destroyed by an infant's 
breath, had completely subsided, and its two in- 
mates lay motionless, buried under the sunken 
thatch. 

It was two hours after the catastrophe that Cap- 
tain Servadac regained consciousness ; he had some 
trouble to collect his thoughts, and the first sounda 
that escaped his lips were the concluding words of 
the rondo which had been so ruthlessly interrupted; 
"Constant ever I will be, 
Constant . . . ." 

His next thought was to wonder what had hap- 
pened; and in order to find an answer, he pushed 
aside the broken thatch, so that his head appeared 
above the debris. "The gourbi leveled to the 
ground!" he exclaimed, "surely a waterspout has 
passed along the coast." 

He felt all over his body to perceive what injuries 
he had sustained, but not a sprain nor a scratch 
could he discover. "Where are you, Ben Zoof?" he 
shouted. 

"Here, sir!" and with military promptitude a 
second head protruded from the rubbish. 

"Have you any notion what has happened, Ben 
Zoof?" 

"I've a notion, captain, that it's all up with us." 

"Nonsense, Ben Zoof; it is nothing but a water- 
spout!" 

"Very good, sir;" was the philosophical reply, 
immediately followed by the query, "Any bonea 
broken, sir?" 

"None whatever," said the captain. 

Both men were soon on their feet, and began 
to make a vigorous clearance of the ruins, beneath 
which they found that their arms, cooking utensils, 
and other property, had sustained little injury. 

"By-the-by, what o'clock is it?" asked the cap- 
tain. 

"It must be eight o'clock, at least," said Ben 
Zoof, looking at the sun, which was a considerable 
height above the horizon. "It is almost time for 
us to start." 

"To start! what for?" 

"To keep your appointment with Count Tima- 
scheff." 

"By Jove! I had forgotten all about it!" ex- 
claimed Servadac. Then looking at his watch, he 
cried, "What are you thinking of, Ben Zoof? It is 
scarcely two o'clock. 

"Two in the morning, or two in the afternoon?" 
asked Ben Zoof, again regarding the sun. 

Servadac raised his watch to his ear. "It is 
going," said he; "but, by all the wines of Medoc, 



10 



AMAZING STORIES 



I am pu2zled. Don't you see the sun is in the west? 
It must be near setting." 

"Setting, captain! Why, it ia rising finely, like 
a. conscript at the sound of the reveille. It is con- 
siderably higher since we have been talking." 

Incredible as it might appear, the fact was un- 
deniable that the sun was rising over the Shelif 
from that quarter of the horizon behind which it 
usually sank for the latter portion of its daily 
round. They were utterly bewildered. Some mys- 
terious phenomenon must not only have altered 
the position of the sun in the sidereal system, but 
must even have brought about an important modi- 
fication of the earth's rotation on her axis. 

Captain Servadac consoled himself with the pros- 
pect of reading an explanation of the mystery in 
next week's newspapers, and turned his attention 
to what was to him of more immediate importance. 
"Come, let us be off," said he to his orderly ; "though 
heaven and earth be topsy-turvy, I must be at my 
post this morning." 

"To do Count Timascheff the honor of running 
him through the body," added Ben Zoof. 

If Servadac and his orderly had been less pre- 
occupied, they would have noticed that a variety of 
other physical changes besides the apparent altera- 
tion in the movement of the sun had been evolved 
during the atmospheric disturbances of that New 
Year'3 night. As they descended the steep footpath 
leading from the cliff towards the Shelif, they were 
conscious that their respiration became forced 
and rapid, like that of a mountaineer when he has 
reached an altitude where the air has become less 
charged with oxygen. They were also conscious 
that their voices were thin and feeble ; either they 
must themselves have become rather deaf or it was 
evident that the air had become less capable of 
transmitting sound. 

The weather, which on the previous evening had 
been very foggy, had entirely changed. The sky had 
assumed a singular tint, and was soon covered with 
lowering clouds that completely hid the sun. There 
were, indeed, all the signs of a coming storm, but 
the vapor, on account of the insufficient condensa- 
tion, failed to fall. 

The sea appeared quite deserted, a most unusual 
circumstance along this coast, and not a sail nor 
a trail of smoke broke the gray monotony of water 
and sky. The limits of the horizon, too, had be- 
come much circumscribed. On land, as well as on 
sea, the remote distance had completely disappeared, 
and it seemed as though the globe had assumed a 
more decided convexity. 

At the pace at which they were walking, it was 
very evident that the captain and his attendant 
would not take long to accomplish the three miles 
that lay between the gourbi and the place of ren- 
dezvous. They did not exchange a word, but each 
was conscious of an unusual buoyancy, which ap- 
peared to lift up their bodies and give as it were, 
wings to their feet. If Ben Zoof had expressed his 
sensations in words, he would have said that he 
felt "up to anything," and he had even forgotten 
to taste so much as a crust of bread, a lapse of 
memory of which the worthy soldier was rarely 
guilty. 

As these thoughts were crossing his mind, a 
harsh bark was heard to the left of the footpath, 
and a jackal was seen emerging from a large grove 



of lentisks. Regarding the two wayfarers with 
manifest uneasiness, the beast took up its position 
at the foot of a rock, more than thirty feet in 
height. It belonged to an African species dis- 
tinguished by a black spotted skin, and a black 
line down the front of the legs. At night-time 
when they scour the country in herds, the crea- 
tures are somewhat formidable, but singly they 
are no more dangerous than a dog. Though by no 
means afraid of them, Ben Zoof had a particular 
aversion to jackals, perhaps because they had no 
place among the fauna of his beloved Montmartre. 
He accordingly began to make threatening gestures, 
when, to the unmitigated astonishment of himself 
and the captain, the animal darted forward, and in 
one single bound gained the summit of the rock. 

"Good Heavens I" cried Ben Zoof, "that leap must 
have been thirty feet at least." 

"True enough," replied the captain; "I never 
saw such a jump." 

Meantime the jackal had seated itself upon its 
haunches, and was staring at the two men with an 
air of impudent defiance. This was too much for 
Ben Zoof's forbearance, and stooping down he 
caught up a huge stone, when to his surprise, he 
found that it was no heavier than a piece of petri- 
fied sponge. "Confound the brute!" he exclaimed, 
"I might as well throw a piece of bread at him. 
What accounts for its being as light as this?" 

Nothing daunted, however, he hurled the stone 
into the air. It missed its aim; but the jackal, 
deeming it on the whole prudent to decamp, dis- 
appeared across the trees and hedges with a series 
of bounds, which could only be likened to those that 
might be made by an india-rubber kangaroo. Ben 
Zoof was sure that his own powers of propelling 
must equal those of a howitzer, for his stone, after 
a lengthened flight through the air, fell to the 
ground full five hundred paces the other side of 
the rock. 

The orderly was now some yards ahead of his 
master, and had reached a ditch full of water, and 
about ten feet wide. With the intention of clear- 
ing it, he made a spring, when a loud cry burst from 
Servadac. "Ben Zoof, you idiot! What are you 
about? You will break your back!" 

And well might he be alarmed, for Ben Zoof had 
sprung to a height of forty feet into the air. Fear- 
ful of the consequences that would attend the des- 
cent of his servant to terra firma, Servadac bounded 
forwards, to be on the other side of the ditch in time 
to break his fall. But the muscular effort that he 
made carried him in his turn to an altitude of thirty 
feet ; in his ascent he passed Ben Zoof, who had al- 
ready commenced his downward course; and then, 
obedient to the laws of gravitation, he descended 
with increasing rapidity, and alighted upon the 
earth without experiencing a shock greater than if 
he had merely made a bound of four or five feet 
high. 

Ben Zoof burst into a roar of laughter. "Bravo !" 
he said, "we should make a good pair of clowns." 

But the captain was inclined to take a more seri- 
ous view of the matter. For a few seconds he stood 
lost in thought, then said solemnly, "Ben Zoof, I 
must be dreaming. Pinch me hard; I must be 
either asleep or mad." 

"It is very certain that something has happened 
to us," said Ben Zoof. "I have occasionally dreamed 



OFF ON A COMET 



11 



that I was a swallow flying over the Montmartre, 
but I never experienced anything of this kind be- 
fore; it must be peculiar to the coast of Algeria." 

Servadac was stupefied; he felt instinctively that 
he was not dreaming, and yet was powerless to solve 
the mystery. He was not, however, the man to 
puzzle himself for long over any insoluble problem. 
"Come what may," he presently exclaimed, "we will 
make up our minds for the future to be surprised 
at nothing." 

"Right, captain," replied Ben Zoof; "and, first 
of all, let us settle our little score with Count Tima- 
scheff." 

Beyond the ditch lay a small piece of meadow land, 
about an acre in extent. A soft and delicious herb- 
age carpeted the soil, whilst trees formed a charm- 
ing framework to the whole. No spot could have 
been chosen more suitable for the meeting between 
the two adversaries. 

Servadac cast a hasty glance round. No one was 
in sight. "We are the first on the field," he said. 

"Not so sure of that, sir," said Ben Zoof. 

"What do you mean?" asked Servadac, looking 
at his watch, which he had set as nearly as possible 
by the sun before leaving the gourbi; "it is not 
nine o'lock yet." 

"Look up there, sir. I am much mistaken if that 
is not the sun;" and as Ben Zoof spoke, he pointed 
directly overhead to where a faint white disc was 
dimly visible through the haze of clouds. 

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Servadac. "How can the 
sun be in the zenith, in the month of January, in 
lat. 39° N.?" 

"Can't say, sir. I only know the sun is there ; and 
at the rate he has been traveling, I would lay my 
cap 'to a dish of couscous that in less than three 
hours he will have set." 

Hector Servadac mute and motionless, stood with 
folded arms. Presently he roused himself, and be- 
gan to look about again. "What means all this?" 
he murmured. "Laws of gravity disturbed! Points 
of the compass reversed! The length of day re- 
duced one half! Surely this will indefinitely post- 
pone my meeting with the count. Something has 
happened; Ben Zoof and I cannot both be mad!" 

The orderly, meantime, surveyed his master with 
the greatest equanimity; no phenomenon, however 
extraordinary, would have drawn from him a single 
exclamation of surprise. "Do you see anyone, Ben 
Zoof?" asked the captain, at last. 

"No one, sir; the count has evidently been and 
gone." 

"But supposing that to be the case," persisted 
the captain, "my seconds would have waited, and not 
seeing me, would have come on towards the gourbi. 
I can only conclude that they have been unable to 
get here; and as for Count Timascheff — " 

Without finishing his sentence, Captain Servadac, 
thinking it just probable that the count, as on the 
previous evening, might eome by water, walked to 
the ridge of rock that overhung the shore, in order 
to ascertain if the Dobryna were anywhere in sight. 
But the sea was deserted, and for the first time the 
captain noticed that, although the wind was calm, 
the waters were unusually agitated, and seethed 
and foamed as though they were boiling. It was 
very certain that the yacht would have found a 
difficulty in holding her own in such a swell. An- 
"**i*" ""Tie that now struck Servadac was the extra- 



ordinary contraction of the horizon. Under ordi- 
nary circumstances, his elevated position would have 
allowed him a radius of vision at least five and 
twenty miles in length; but the terrestrial sphere 
seemed, in the course of the last few hours, to have 
become considerably reduced in volume, and he 
could now see for a distance of only six miles in 
every direction. 

Meantime, with, the agility of a monkey, Ben 
Zoof had clambered to the top of a eucalyptus, and 
from his lofty perch was surveying the country to 
the south, as well as towards both Tenes and Mos- 
taganem. On descending, he informed the cap- 
tain that the plain was deserted. 

"We will make our way to the river, and get over 
into Mostaganem," said the captain. 

The Shelif was not more than a mile and a half 
from the meadow, but no time was to be lost if 
the two men were to reach the town before night- 
fall. Though still hidden by heavy clouds, the sun 
was evidently declining fast; and what was equally 
inexplicable, it was not following the oblique curve 
that in these latitudes and at this time of year 
might be expected, but was sinking perpendicularly 
down to the horizon. 

As he went along, Captain Servadac pondered 
deeply. Perchance some unheard-of phenomenon 
had modified the rotary motion of the globe; or 
perhaps the Algerian coast had been transported 
beyond the equator into the southern hemisphere. 
Yet the earth, with the exception of the alteration 
in its convexity, in this part of Africa at least, 
seemed to have undergone no change of any very 
great importance. As far as the eye could reach, 
the shore was, as it had ever been, a succession of 
cliffs, beach, and arid rocks, tinged with a red 
ferruginous hue. To the south— r if south, in this 
inverted order of things, it might still be called — 
the face of the country also appeared unaltered,' and 
some leagues away, the peaks of the Merdeyah 
mountains still retained their accustomed outline- 
Presently a rift in the clouds gave passage to an 
oblique ray of light that clearly proved that the 
sun was setting in the east. 

"Well, I am curious to know what they think of 
all this at Mostaganem," said the captain. "I won- 
der, too, what the Minister of War will say when 
he receives a telegram informing him that his Afri- 
can colony has become, not morally, but physically 
disorganized; that the cardinal points are at vari- 
ance with ordinary rules, and that the sun in the 
month of January is shining down vertically upon 
our heads." 

Ben Zoof, whose ideas of discipline were ex- 
tremely rigid, at once suggested that the colony 
should be put under the surveillance of the police, 
that the cardinal points should be placed under re- 
straint, and that the sun should be shot for breach 
of discipline. 

Meantime, they were both advancing with the 
utmost speed. The decompression of the atmo- 
sphere made the specific gravity of their bodies 
extraordinarily light, and they ran like hares and 
leaped like chamois. Leaving the devious windings 
of the footpath, they went as a crow would fly 
across the country. Hedges, trees, and streams 
were cleared at a bound, and under these conditions 
Ben Zoof felt that he could have overstepped Mont- 
martre at a single stride. The earth seemed as 



12 



AMAZING STORIES 



elastic as the spring-board of an acrobat; they 
scarcely touched it with their feet, and their only 
fear was lest the height to which they were pro- 
pelled would consume the time which they were 
saving by their short cut across the fields. 

It was not long before their wild career brought 
them to the right bank of the Shelif. Here they 
were compelled to stop, for not only had the bridge 
completely disappeared, but the river itself no long- 
er existed. Of the left bank there was not the 
slightest trace, an<i the right bank, which on the 
previous evening had bounded the yellow stream, 
as it murmured peacefully along the fertile plain, 
had now become the shore of a tumultuous ocean, its 
azure waters extending westwards far as the eye 
could reach, and annihilating the tract of country 
which had hitherto formed the district of Mosta- 
ganem. The shore coincided exactly with what had 
been the right bank of the Shelif, and in a slightly 
curved line ran north and south, whilst the adjacent 
groves and meadows all retained their previous 
positions. But the river-bank had become the shore 
of an unknown sea. 

Eager to throw some light upon the mystery, 
Servadac hurriedly made his way through the ole- 
ander bushes that overhung the shore, took up some 
water in the hollow of his hand, and carried it to 
his lips. "Salt as brine!" he exclaimed, as soon 
as he had tasted it. "The sea has undoubtedly 
swallowed up all the western part of Algeria." 

"It will not last long, sir," said Ben Zoof, "It is, 
probably, only a severe flood." 

The captain shook his head. "Worse than that, 
I fear, Ben Zoof," he replied with emotion. "It is 
a catastrophe that may have very serious conse- 
quences. What can have become of all my friends 
and fellow-officers?" 

Ben Zoof was silent. Rarely had he seen his mas- 
ter so much agitated; and though himself inclined 
to receive these phenomena with philosophic in- 
difference, his notions of military duty caused his 
countenance to reflect the captain's expression of 
amazement. 

But there was little time for Servadac to exam- 
ine the changes which a few hours had wrought. 
The sun had already reached the eastern horizon, 
and just as though it were crossing the ecliptic 
under the tropics, it sank like a cannon ball into the 
sea. Without any warning, day gave place to night, 
and earth, sea, and sky were immediately wrapped 
in profound obscurity. 

CHAPTER VI 
THE CAPTAIN MAKES AN EXPLORATION 

Hector Servadac was not the man to remain long 
unnerved by any untoward event. It was part of 
his character to discover the why and the wherefore 
of everything that came under his observation, and 
he would have faced a cannon ball the more un- 
flinchingly from understanding the dynamic force 
by which it was propelled. Such being his tem- 
perament, it may well be imagined that he was 
anxious not to remain long in ignorance of the 
cause of the phenomena which had been so start- 
ling in their consequences, 

"We must inquire into thi3 to-morrow," he ex- 
claimed, as darkness fell suddenly upon them. Then, 
after a pause, he added: "That is to say, if there 



is to be a to-morrow; for if I were to be put to 
the torture, I could not tell what has become of the 
sun." 

"May I ask, sir, what we are to do now?" put in 
Ben Zoof. 

"Stay where we are for the present; and when 
daylight appears — if it ever does appear — we will 
explore the coast to the west and south, and return 
to the gourbi. If we can find out nothing else, we 
must at least discover where we are." 

"Meanwhile, sir, may we go to sleep?" 

"Certainly, if you like, and if you can." 

Nothing loath to avail himself of his master's 
permission, Ben Zoof crouched down in an angle 
of the shore, threw his arms over his eyes, and very 
soon slept the sleep of the ignorant, which is often 
sounder than the sleep of the just. 

Overwhelmed by the questions that crowded up- 
on his brain, Captain Servadac could only wander 
up and down the shore. Again and again he asked 
himself what the catastrophe could portend. Had 
the towns of Algiers, Oran, and Mostaganem es- 
caped the inundation? Could he bring himself 
to believe that all the inhabitants, his friends, and 
comrades had perished; or was it not more prob- 
able that the Mediterranean had merely invaded 
the region of the mouth of the Shelif? But this 
supposition did not in the least explain the other 
physical disturbances. Another hypothesis that 
presented itself to his mind was that, the African 
coast might have been suddenly transported to the 
equatorial zone. But although this might get over 
the difficulty of the altered altitude of the sun and 
the absence of twilight, yet it would neither ac- 
count for the sun setting in the east, nor for the 
length of the day being reduced to six hours. 

"We must wait till to-morrow," he repeated; add- 
ing, for he had become distrustful of the future, 
"that is to say, if to-morrow ever comes." 

Although not very learned in astronomy, Serva- 
dac was acquainted with the position of the princi- 
pal constellations. It was therefore a considerable 
disappointment to him that, in consequence of the 
heavy clouds, not a star was visible in the firma- 
ment. To have ascertained that the pole-star had 
become displaced would have been an undeniable 
proof that the earth was revolving on a new axis; 
but not a rift appeared in the lowering clouds, 
which seemed to threaten torrents of rain. 

It happened that the moon was new on that very 
day; naturally, therefore, it would have set at the 
same time as the sun. What, then, wa3 the cap- 
tain's bewilderment when, after he had been walk- 
ing for about an hour and a half, he noticed on the 
western horizon a strong glare that penetrated 
even the masses of the clouds. 

"The moon in the west!" he cried aloud; but sud- 
denly bethinking himself, he added: "But no, that 
cannot be the moon; unless she has shifted very 
much nearer the earth, she could never give a light 
as intense as this." 

As he spoke the screen of vapor was illuminated 
to such a degree that the whole country was, as it 
were, bathed in twilight. "What can this be?" 
soliloquized the captain. "It cannot be the sun, for 
the sun set in the east only an hour and a half ago. 
Would that those clouds would disclose what enor- 
mous luminary lies behind them! What a fool 
I was not to have learnt more astronomy ! Perhaps, 



OFF ON A COMET 



13 



after all, I am racking my brain over something 
that ia quite in the ordinary course of nature." 

But, reason as he might, the mysteries of the 
heavens still remained impenetrable. For about an 
hour some luminous body, its disc evidently of gi- 
gantic dimensions, shed its rays upon the upper 
strata of the clouds; then, marvelous to relate, in- 
stead of obeying the ordinary Iaw3 of celestial 
mechanism, and descending upon the opposite hori- 
zon, it seemed to retreat farther off, grew dimmer, 
and vanished. 

The darkness that returned to the face of the 
earth was not more profound than the gloom which 
fell upon the captain's soul. Everything was in- 
comprehensible. The simplest mechanical rules 
seemed falsified; the planets had defied the laws of 
gravitation ; the motions of the celestial spheres 
were erroneous as those of a watch with a defective 
mainspring, and there was reason to fear that the 
sun would never again shed his radiance upon the 
earth. 

But these last fears were groundless. In three 
hours' time, without any intervening twilight, the 
morning sun made its appearance in the west, and 
day once more had dawned. On consulting his 
watch, Servadac found that night had lasted pre- 
cisely six hours. Ben Zoof, who was unaccustomed 
to so brief a period of repose, was still slumbering 
soundly. 

"Come, wake up !" said Servadac, shaking him by 
the shoulder ; "it is time to start." 

"Time to start?" exclaimed Ben Zoof, rubbing 
his eyes. "I feel as if I had only just gone to sleep." 

''You have slept all night, at any rate," replied 
the captain; "it has only been for six hours, but 
you must make it enough." 

"Enough it shall be, sir," was the submissive 
rejoinder. 

"And now," continued Servadac, "we will take 
the shortest way back to the gourbi, and see what 
our horses think about it all." 

"They will think that they ought to be groomed," 
said the orderly. 

"Very good; you may groom them and saddle 
them as quickly as you like. I want to know what 
has become of the rest of Algeria : if we cannot get 
round by the south to Mostaganem, we must go 
eastwards to Tenes." And forthwith they started. 
Beginning to feel hungry, they had no hesitation 
in gathering figs, dates, and oranges from the plan- 
tations that formed a continuous rich and luxuriant 
orchard along their path. The district was quite 
deserted, and they had no reason to fear any legal 
penalty. 

In an hour and a half they reached the gourbi. 
Everything was jugt as they had left it, and it was 
evident that no one bad visited the place during 
their absence. All was desolate as the shore they 
had quitted. 

The preparations for the expedition were brief , 
and simple. Ben Zoof saddled the horses and filled 
his pouch with biscuits and game; water, he felt 
certain, could be obtained in abundance from the 
numerous affluents of the Shelif, which, although 
they had now become tributaries of the Mediter- 
ranean, still meandered through the plain. Captain 
Servadac mounted his horse Zephyr, and Ben Zoof 
simultaneously got astride his mare Galette, named 
after the mill of Montmartre. They galloped off 



in the direction of the Shelif, and were not long 
in discovering that the diminution in the pressure 
of the atmosphere had precisely the same effect upon 
their horses as it had had upon themselves. Their 
muscular strength seemed five times as great as 
hitherto; their hoofs scarcely touched the ground, 
and they seemed transformed from ordinary quad- 
rupeds into veritable hippogriffs. Happily, Serva- 
dac and his orderly were fearless riders; they made 
no attempt to curb their steeds, but even urged them 
to still greater exertions. Twenty minutes sufficed 
to carry them over the four or five miles that inter- 
vened between the gourbi and the mouth of the 
Shelif; then, slackening their speed, they proceeded 
at a more leisurely pace to the southeast, along 
what had once been the right bank of the river, 
but which, although it still retained its former char- 
acteristics, was now the boundary of a sea, which 
extending farther than the limits of the horizon, 
must have swallowed up at least a large portion of 
the province of Or an. Captain Servadac knew the 
country well ; he had at one time been engaged upon 
a trigonometrical survey of the district, and conse- 
quently bad an accurate knowledge of its topo- 
graphy. His idea now was to draw up a report of 
his investigations: to whom that report should be 
delivered was a problem he had yet to solve. 

During the four hours of daylight that still re- 
mained, the travelers rode about twenty-one miles 
from the river mouth. To their vast surprise, they 
did not meet a single human being. At nightfall 
they again encamped in a slight bend of the shore, 
at a point which on the previous evening had faced 
the mouth of the Mina, one of the left-hand affluents 
of the Shelif, but now absorbed into the newly re- 
vealed ocean. Ben Zoof made the sleeping accommo- 
dation as comfortable as the circumstances would 
allow; the horses were hobbled and turned out to 
feed upon the rich pasture that clothed the shore, 
and the night passed without special incident. 

At sunrise on the following morning, the 2nd of 
January, or what, according to the ordinary calen- 
dar, would have been the night of the 1st, the cap- 
tain and his orderly remounted their horses, and 
during the six-hours' day accomplished a distance 
of forty-two miles. The right bank of the river 
still continued to be the margin of the land, and 
only in one spot had its integrity been impaired. 
This was about twelve miles from the Mina, and 
on the site of the annex or suburb of Surkelmittoo. 
Here a large portion of the bank had been swept 
away, and the hamlet, with its eight hundred in- 
habitants, had no doubt been swallowed up by the 
encroaching waters. It seemed, therefore, more 
than probable that a similar fate had overtaken the 
larger towns beyond the Shelif. 

In the evening the explorers encamped, as pre- 
viously, in a nook of the shore which here abruptly 
terminated their new domain, not far from where 
they might have expected to find the important vil- 
lage of Memounturroy; but of this, too, there was 
now no trace. "I had quite reckoned upon a supper 
and a bed at Orleansville to-night," said Servadac, 
as, full of despondency, he surveyed the waste of 
water. 

"Quite impossible," replied Ben Zoof, "except you 
had gone by a boat. But cheer up, sir, cheer up; 
we will soon devise some means for getting across 
to 1 "" 



AMAZING STORIES 



"If, as I hope" rejoined the captain, "we are on 
a peninsula, we are more likely to get to Tenes; 
there we shall hear the news." 

"Far more likely to carry the news ourselves," 
answered Ben Zoof, as he threw himself down for 
his night's rest. 

Six hours later, only waiting for sunrise, Captain 
Servadac set himself in movement again to renew 
his investigations. At this spot the shore, that 
hitherto had been running in a southeasterly direc- 
tion, turned abruptly to the north, being no longer 
formed by the natural bank of the Shelif, but con- 
sisting of an absolutely new coast-line. No land 
was in sight. Nothing could be seen of Orleans- 
ville, which ought to have been about sis miles to 
the southwest;>and Ben Zoof, who had mounted the 
highest point of view attainable, could distinguish 
sea, and nothing but sea, to the farthest horizon. 

Quitting their encampment and riding on, the 
bewildered explorers kept close to the new shore. 
This, since it had ceased to be formed by the origi- 
nal river bank, had considerably altered its aspect. 
Frequent landslips occurred, and in many places 
deep chasms rifted the ground ; great gaps furrowed 
the fields, and trees, half uprooted, overhung the 
water, remarkable by the fantastic distortions of 
their gnarled trunks, looking as though they had 
heen chopped by a hatchet. 

The sinuosities of the coast line, alternately gully 
and headland, had the effect of making a devious 
progress for the travelers, and at sunset, although 
they had accomplished more than twenty miles, 
they had only just arrived at the foot of the Mer- 
deyah Mountains, which, before the cataclysm, had 
formed the extremity of the chain of the Little 
Atlas. The ridge, however, had been violently rup- 
tured, and now rose Derpendicularly from the water. 

On the following morning Servadac and Ben Zoof 
traversed one of the mountain gorges; and next, in 
order to make a more thorough acquaintance with 
the limits and condition of the section of Algerian 
territory of which they seemed to be left as the sole 
occupants, they dismounted, and proceeded on foot 
to the summit of one of the highest peaks. From 
this elevation they ascertained that from the base 
of the Merdeyah to the Mediterranean, a distance of 
about eighteen miles, a new coast line had come 
into existence; no land was visible in any direction; 
no isthmus existed to form a connecting link with 
the territory of Tenes, which had entirely dis- 
appeared. The result was that Captain Servadac 
was driven to the irresistible conclusion that the 
tract of land which he had been surveying was not, 
as he had at first imagined, a peninsula; it was 
actually an island. 

Strictly generally speaking, this island was quad- 
rilateral, but the sides were so irregular that it was 
much more nearly a triangle, the comparison of the 
sides exhibiting these proportions: The section of 
the right bank of the Shelif, seventy-two miles ; the 
southern boundary from the Shelif to the chain of 
the Little Atlas, twenty-one miles; from the Little 
Atlas to the Mediterranean, eighteen miles; and 
sixty miles of the shore of the Mediterranean itself, 
making in all an entire circumference of about 171 
miles. 

"What does it all mean?" exclaimed the captain, 
every hour growing more and more bewildered. 

"The will of providence, and we must submit," 



replied Ben Zoof, calm and undisturbed. With 
this reflection, the two men silently descended the 
mountain and remounted their horses. Before eve- 
ning they had reached the Mediterranean. On their 
road they failed to discern a vestige of the little 
town of Montenotte; like Tenes, of which not so 
much as a ruined cottage was visible on the horizon, 
it seemed to be annihilated. 

On the following day, the 6th of January, the 
two men made a forced march along the coast of 
the Mediterranean, which they found less altered 
than the captain had at first supposed; but four 
villages had entirely disappeared, and the head- 
lands, unable to resist the shock of the convulsion, 
had been detached from the mainland. 

The circuit of the island had been now completed, 
and the explorers, after a period of sixty hours, 
found themselves once more beside the ruins of 
their gourbi. Five days, or what, according to the 
established order of things, would have been two 
days and a half, had been occupied in tracing the 
boundaries of their new domain; and they had as- 
certained beyond a doubt that they were the sole 
human inhabitants left upon the island. 

"Well, sir, here you are. Governor General of 
Algeria!" exclaimed Ben Zoof, as they reached the 
gourbi. 

"With not a soul to govern," gloomily rejoined 
the captain. 

"How so? Do you not reckon me?" 
"Pshaw! Ben Zoof, what are you?" 
"What am 1? Why, I am the population." 
The captain deigned no reply, but, muttering 
some expressions of regret for the fruitless trouble 
he had taken about his rondo, betook himself to 
rest. 

CHAPTER VII 
BEN ZOOF WATCHES IN VAIN 

In a few minutes the governor general and his 
population were asleep. The gourbi being in ruins, 
they were obliged to put up with the best accommo- 
dation they could find in the adjacent erection. It 
must be owned that the captain's slumbers were by 
no means sound; he was agitated by the conscious- 
ness that he had hitherto been unable to account 
for his strange experiences by any reasonable 
theory. Though far from being advanced in the 
knowledge of natural philosophy, he had been in- 
structed, to a certain degree, in its elementary 
principles; and, by an effort of memory, he man- 
aged to recall some general laws which he had al- 
most forgotten. He could understand that an al- 
tered inclination of the earth's axis with regard 
to the ecliptic would introduce a change of position 
in the cardinal points, and bring about a displace- 
ment of the sea ; but the hypothesis entirely failed 
to account, either for the shortening of the days, 
or for the diminution in the pressure of the atmos- 
phere. He felt that his judgment was utterly 
baffled; his only remaining hope was that the chain 
of marvels was not yet complete, and that some- 
thing farther might throw some light upon the 
mystery. 

Ben Zoof's first care on the following morning 
was to provide a good breakfast. To use his own 
phrase, he was as hungry as the whole population 
of three million Algerians, of whom he was the 



OFF ON A COMET 



IS 



representative, and he must have enough to eat. 
The catastrophe which had overwhelmed the coun- 
try had left a dozen egga uninjured, and upon these, 
with a good dish of his famous couscous, he hoped 
that he and his master might have a sufficiently 
substantial meal. The stove was ready for use, the 
copper skillet was as bright as hands could make 
it, and the beads of condensed steam upon -the sur- 
face of a large stone alcarraza gave evidence that 
it was supplied with water. Ben Zoof at once lighted 
a fire, singing all the time, according to his wont, a 
snatch of an old military refrain. 

Ever on the lookout for fresh phenomena, Cap- 
tain Servadac watched the preparations with a curi- 
ous eye. It struck him that perhaps the air, in its 
strangely modified condition, would fail to supply 
sufficient oxygen, and that the stove in consequence 
might not fulfill its function. But no; the fire was 
lighted just as usual, and fanned into vigor by Ben 
Zoof applying his mouth in lieu of bellows, and a 
bright flame started up from the midst of the twigs 
and coal. The skillet was duly set upon the stove, 
and Ben Zoof was prepared to wait awhile for the 
water to boil. Taking up the eggs, he was surprised 
to notice that they hardly weighed more than they 
would if they had been mere shells ; but he was still 
more surprised when he saw that before the water 
had been two minutes over the fire it was at full 
hoil. 

"By jingo!" he exclaimed, "a precious hot fire!" 

Servadac reflected. "It cannot be that the fire 
is hotter," he said, "the peculiarity must be in the 
water." And taking down a centigrade thermometer, 
which hung upon the wall, he plunged it into the 
skillet. Instead of 100°, the instrument registered 
only 66°. 

"Take my advice, Ben Zoof," he said, "leave your 
eggs in the saucepan a good quarter of an hour." 

"Boil them hard ! That will never do," objected 
the orderly. 

"You will not find them hard, my good fellow. 
Trust me, we shall be able to dip our sippets into 
the yolks easily enough." 

The captain was quite right in his conjecture, that 
this new phenomenon was caused by a diminution in 
the pressure of the atmosphere. Water boiling at 
a temperature of 66° was itself an evidence that 
the ocean of air above the earth's surface had 
been reduced by one-third of its quantity. The 
identical phenomenon would have occurred at the 
summit of a mountain 35,000 feet high; and had 
Servadac been in possession of a barometer, he 
would have immediately discovered the fact that 
only now for the first time, as the result of experi- 
ment, revealed itself to him — a fact, moreover, 
which accounted for the effect upon the blood- 
vessels which both he and Ben Zoof had experienced, 
as well as for the attenuation of their voices and 
their accelerated breathing. "And yet," he agreed 
with himself, "if our encampment has been pro- 
jected to so great an elevation, how is it that the 
sea remains at its proper level?" 

Once again Hector Servadac, though capable of 
tracing consequences, felt himself totally at a loss 
to comprehend their cause; hence his agitation and 
bewilderment ! 

After their prolonged immersion in the boiling 
water, the eggs were found to be only just suffi- 
ciently cooked; the couscous was very much in the 



same condition; and Ben Zoof came to the conclu- 
sion that in future he must be careful to commence 
his culinary operations an hour earlier. He wa3 
rejoiced at last to help his master, who, in spite of 
his perplexed preoccupation, seemed to have a very 
fair appetite for breakfast. 

"Well, captain?" said Ben Zoof presently, such 
being his ordinary way of opening conversation. 

"Weil, Ben Zoof?" was the captain's invariable 
response to his servant's formula, 

"What are we to do now, sir?" 

"We can only for the present wait patiently where 
we are. We are encamped upon an island, and 
therefore we can only be rescued by sea." 

"But do you suppose that any of our friends are 
still alive?" asked Ben Zoof. 

"Oh, I think we must indulge the hope that this 
catastrophe has not extended far. We must trust 
that it has limited its mischief to some small por- 
tion of the Algerian coast, and that our friends are 
all alive and well. No doubt the governor general 
will be anxious to investigate the full extent of 
the damage, and will send a vessel from Algiers to 
explore. It is not likely that we shall be forgotten. 
What you have to do then, Ben Zoof, is to keep 
a sharp lookout, and to be ready, in case a vessel 
should appear, to make signals at once." 

"But if no vessel should appear!" sighed the 
orderly. 

"Then we must build a boat, and go in search 
of those who do not come in search of us." 

"Very good. But what sort of a sailor are you?" 

"Everyone can be a sailor when he must," said 
Servadac calmly. 

Ben Zoof said no more. For several succeeding 
days he scanned the horizon unintermittently with 
his telescope. His watching was in vain. No ship 
appeared upon the desert sea. "By the name of a 
Kabyle!" he brok" out impatiently, "his Excellency 
is grossly neglige tt!" 

Although the days and nights had become reduced 
from twenty-four hours to twelve, Captain Serva- 
dac would not accept the new condition of things, 
but resolved to adhere to the computations of the 
old calendar. Notwithstanding, therefore, that the 
sun had risen and set twelve times since the com- 
mencement of the new year, he persisted in calling 
the following day the 6th of January. His watch 
enabled him to keep an accurate account of the 
passing hours. 

In the course of his life, Ben Zoof had read a few 
books. After pondering one day, he said; "It seems 
to me, captain, that you have turned into Robinson 
Crusoe, and that I am your man Friday. I hope 
I have not become a negro." 

"No," replied the captain. "Your complexion 
isn't the fairest in the world, but you are not black 
yet." 

"Well, I had much sooner be a white Friday thari 
a black one," rejoined Ben Zoof. 

Still no ship appeared; and Captain Servadac, 
after the example of all previous Crusoes, began 
to consider it advisable to investigate the resources 
of his domain. The new territory of which he had 
become the monarch he named Gourbi Island. It 
had a superficial area of about nine hundred square 
miles. Bullocks, cows, goats, and sheep existed in 
considerable numbers; and as there seemed already 
to be an abundance of game, it was hardly likely 



16 



AMAZING STORIES 



that a future supply would f^il them. The condition 
of the cereals was such as to promise a fine ingath- 
ering of wheat, maize, and rice; so that for the 
governor and his population, with their two horses, 
not only was there ample provision, but even if 
other human inhabitants besides themselves should 
yet be discovered, there was not the remotest pros- 
pect of any of them perishing by starvation. 

From the 6th to the 13th of January the rain 
came down in torrents; and, what was quite an 
unusual occurrence at this season of the year, sev- 
eral heavy storms broke over the island. In spite, 
however, of the continual downfall, the heavens still 
remained veiled in cloud. Servadac, moreover, did 
not fail to observe that for the season the tempera- 
ture was unusually high ; and, as a matter still more 
surprising, that it kept steadily increasing, as 
though the earth were gradually and continuously 
approximating to the sun. In proportion to the 
rise of temperature, the light also assumed greater 
intensity; and if it had not been for the screen of 
vapor interposed between the sky and the island, 
the irradiation which would have illumined all ter- 
restrial objects would have been vivid beyond all 
precedent. 

But neither sun, moon, nor star ever appeared; 
and Servadac's irritation and annoyance at being 
unable to identify any one point of the firmament 
may be more readily imagined than described. On 
one occasion Ben Zoof endeavored to mitigate his 
master's impatience by exhorting him to assume 
the resignation, even if he did not feel the indif- 
ference, which he himself experienced; but his 
advice was received with so angry a rebuff that 
he retired in all haste, abashed, to resume his watch- 
man's duty, which he performed with exemplary 
perseverance. Day and night, with the shortest 
possible intervals of rest, despite wind, rain, and 
storm, he mounted guard upon the cliff— but all 
in vain. Not a speck appeared upon the desolate 
horizon. To say the truth, no vessel could have 
stood against the weather. The hurricane raged 
with tremendous fury, and the waves rose to a 
height that seemed to defy calculation. Never, even 
in the second era of creation, when, under the influ- 
ence of internal heat, the waters rose in vapor to 
descend in deluge back upon the world, could mete- 
orological phenomena have been developed with 
more impressive intensity. 

But by the night of the 13th the tempest appeared 
to have spent its fury; the wind dropped; the rain 
ceased as if by a spell; and Servadac, who for the 
last six days had confined himself to the shelter 
of his roof, hastened to join Ben Zoof at his post 
upon the cliff. Now, he thought, there might be 
a chance of solving his perplexity ; perhaps now the 
huge disc, of which he had an imperfect glimpse 
on the night of the 31st of December, might again 
reveal itself; at any rate, he hoped for an oppor- 
tunity of observing the constellations in a clear 
firmament above. 

The night was magnificent. Not a cloud dimmed 
the luster of the stars, which spangled the heavens 
in surpassing brilliancy, and several nebulae which 
hitherto no astronomer had been able to discern 
without the aid of a telescope were clearly visible 
to the naked eye. 

By a natural impulse, Servadac's first thought 
wa3 to observe the position of the pole-star. It was 



in sight, bat so near to the horizon as to suggest 
the utter impossibility of its being any longer the 
central pivot of the sidereal system; it occupied 
a position through which it was out of the question 
that the axis of the earth indefinitely prolonged 
could ever pass. In his impression he was more 
thoroughly confirmed when, an hour later, he no- 
ticed that the star had approached still nearer the 
horizon, as though it had belonged to one of the 
zodiacal constellations. 

The pole-star being manifestly thu3 displaced, it 
remained to be discovered whether any other of the 
celestial bodies had become a fixed center around 
which the constellations made their apparent daily 
revolutions. To the solution of this problem Ser- 
vadac applied himself with the most thoughtful 
diligence. After patient observation, he satisfied 
himself that the required conditions were answered' 
by a certain star that was stationary not far from 
the horizon. This was Vega, in the constellation 
Lyra, a star which, according to the precession of 
the equinoxes, will take the place of our pole-star 
12.000 years hence. The most daring imagination 
could not suppose that a period of 12,000 years had 
been crowded into the space of a fortnight; and 
therefore the captain came, as to an easier conclu- 
sion, to the opinion that the earth's axis had been 
suddenly and immensely shifted; and from the fact 
that the axis, if produced, would pass through a 
point so litle removed above the horizon, he deduced 
the inference that the Mediterranean must have 
been transported to the equator. 

Lost in bewildering maze of thought, he gazed 
long and intently upon the heavens. His eyes wan- 
dered from where the tail of the Great Bear, now 
a zodiacal constellation, was scarcely visible above 
the waters, to where the stars of the southern hemi 
sphere were just breaking on his view. A cry from 
Ben Zoof recalled bim to himself. 

"The moon !" shouted the orderly, as though over 
joyed at once again beholding what the poet has 
called : 

"The kind companion of terrestrial night;" 
and he pointed to a disc that was rising at a spot 
precisely opposite the place where they would have 
expected to see the sun. "The moon!" again he 
cried. 

But Captain Servadac could not altogether enter 
into his servant's enthusiasm. If this were actually 
the moon, her distance from the earth must have 
been increased by some millions of miles. He was 
rather disposed to suspect that it was not the earth's 
satellite at all, but some planet with its apparent 
magnitude greatly enlarged by its approximation 
to the earth. Taking up the powerful field-glass 
which he was accustomed to use in his surveying 
operations, he proceeded to investigate more care- 
fully the luminous orb. But he failed to trace any 
of the lineaments, supposed to resemble a human 
face, that mark the lunar surface; he failed to 
decipher any indications of hill and plain; nor could 
he make out the aureole of light which emanates 
from what astronomers have designated Mount 
Tycho. "It is not the moon," he said slowly, 

"Not the moon?" cried Ben Zoof. "Whynot?" 

"It is not the moon," again affirmed the captain. 

"Why not?" repeated Ben Zoof, unwilling to re- 
nounce his first impression. 



OFF ON A COMET 



17 



"Because there is a small satellite in attendance." 
And the captain drew his servant's attention to 
a bright speck, apparently about the size of one of 
Jupiter's satellites seen through a moderate tele- 
scope, that was clearly visible just within the focus 
of his glass. 

Here, then, was a fresh mystery. The orbit of 
this planet was assuredly interior to the orbit of 
the earth, because it accompanied the sun in its 
apparent motion; yet it was neither Mercury nor 
Venus, because neither one nor the other of these 
has any satellite at all. 

The captain stamped and stamped again with 
mingled vexation, agitation, and bewilderment. 
"Confound it!" he cried, "if this is neither Venus 
nor Mercury, it must be the moon; but if it is the 
moon, whence, in the name of all the gods, has she 
picked up another moon for herself?" 

The captain was in dire perplexity. 

CHAPTER VIII 
VENUS IN PERILOUS PROXIMITY 

The light of the returning sun soon extinguished 
the glory of the stars, and rendered it necessary for 
the captain to postpone his observations. He had 
sought in vain for further trace of the huge disc 
that had so excited his wonder on the first and it 
seemed most probable that, in its irregular orbit, 
it had been carried beyond the range of vision. 

The weather was still superb. The wind, after 
veering to the west, had sunk to a perfect calm. 
Pursuing its inverted course, the sun rose and set 
with undeviating regularity; and the days and 
nights were still divided into periods of precisely 
Bix hours each — a sure proof that the sun remained 
close to the new equator which manifestly passed 
through Gourbi Island. 

Meanwhile the temperature was steadily increas- 
ing. The captain kept his thermometers close at 
hand where he could repeatedly consult it, and on 
the 15th he found that it registered 50° centigrade 
in the shade. 

No attempt had been made to rebuild the gourbi, 
but the captain and Ben Zoof managed to make up 
quarters sufficiently comfortable in the principal 
apartment of the adjoining structure, where the 
stone walls, that at first afforded a refuge from 
the torrents of rain, now formed an equally accept- 
able shelter from the burning sun. The heat was 
becoming insufferable, surpassing the heat of Sen- 
egal and other equatorial regions ; not a cloud ever 
tempered the intensity of the solar rays ; and unless 
some modification ensued, it seemed inevitable that 
all vegetation should become scorched and burnt 
off from the face of the island. 

In spite, however, of the profuse perspirations 
from which he suffered, Ben Zoof, constant to his 
principles, expressed no surprise at the unwonted 
heat. No remonstrances from his master could 
induce him to, abandon his watch from the cliff. To 
withstand the vertical beams of that noontide sun 
would seem to require a skuil of brass and a brain 
of adamant; but yet, hour after hour, he would 
remain conscientiously scanning the surface of the 
Mediterranean, which, calm and deserted, lay out- 
stretched before him. On one occasion, Servadac, 
in reference to hia orderly's indomitable persever- 
ance, happened to remark that he thought he must 



have been born in the heart of equatorial Africa; 
to which Ben Zoof replied, with the utmost dignity, 
that he was born at Montmartre, which was all the 
same. The worthy fellow was unwilling to own 
that, even in the matter of heat, the tropics could 
in any way surpass his own much-loved home. 

This unprecedented temperature very soon began 
to take effect upon the products of the soil. The 
sap rose rapidly in the trees, so that in the course 
of a few days buds, leaves, flowers, and fruit had 
come to full maturity. It was the same with the 
cereals; wheat and maize sprouted and ripened as 
if by magic, and for a while a rank and luxuriant 
pasturage clothed the meadows. Summer and 
autumn seemed blended into one. If Captain Ser- 
vadac had been more deeply versed in astronomy, 
he would perhaps have been able to bring to bear 
his knowledge that if the axis of the earth, as every- 
thing seemed to indicate, now formed a right angle 
with the plane of the ecliptic, her various seasons, 
like those of the planet Jupiter, would become limi- 
ted to certain zones, in which they would remain 
invariable. But even if he had understood the 
rationale of the change, the convulsion that had 
brought it about would have been as much a mys- 
tery as ever. 

The precocity of vegetation caused some embar- 
rassment. The time for the corn and fruit harvest 
had fallen simultaneously with that of the hay mak- 
ing; and as the extreme heat precluded any pro- 
longed exertions, it was evident "the population" 
of the island would find it difficult to provide the 
necessary amount of labor. Not that the prospect 
gave them much concern: the provisions of the 
gourbi were still far from exhausted, and now that 
the roughness of the weather had so happily sub- 
sided, they had every encouragement to hope that 
a ship of some sort would soon appear. Not only 
was that part of the Mediterranean systematically 
frequented by the government steamers that 
watched the coast, but vessels of all nations were 
constantly cruising off the shore. 

In spite, however, of all their sanguine specula- 
tions, no ship appeared. Ben Zoof admitted the 
necessity of extemporizing a kind of parasol for 
himself, otherwise he must literally have been 
roasted to death upon the exposed summit of the 
cliff. 

Meanwhile, Servadac was doing hi3 utmost — it 
must be acknowledged, with indifferent success — 
to recall the lessons of his school-days. He would 
plunge into the wildest speculations in his endeavors 
to unravel the difficulties of the new situation, and 
struggled into a kind of conviction that if there had 
been a change of manner in the earth's rotation 
on her axis, there would be a corresponding change 
in her revolution round the sun, which would involve 
the consequence of the length of the year being 
either diminished or increased. 

Independently of the increased and increasing 
heat, there was another very conclusive demonstra- 
tion that the earth had thus suddenly approached 
nearer to the sun. The diameter of the solar disc 
was now exactly twice what it ordinarily looks to 
the naked eye; in fact, it was precisely such as it 
would appear to an observer on the surface of the 
planet Venus. The most obvious inference would 
therefore be that the earth's distance from the sun 
had been diminished from 91,000,000 to 66,000,000 



18 



AMAZING STORIES. 



miles. If the just equilibrium of the earth had 
thus been destroyed, and should this diminution 
of distance still continue, would there not be reason 
to fear that the terrestrial world would be carried 
onwards to actual contact with the sun, which must 
result in its total annihilation? 

The continuance of the splendid weather afforded 
Servadac every facility for observing the heavens. 
Night after night, constellations in their beauty lay 
stretched before his eyes — an alphabet which, to 
his mortification, not to say his rage, he was unable 
to decipher. In the apparent dimensions of the 
fixed stars, in their distance, in their relative posi- 
tion with regard to each other, be could observe no 
change. Although it is established that our sun 
is approaching the constellation of Hercules at the 
rate of more than 126,000,000 miles a year, and 
although Arcturus is traveling through space at the 
rate of fifty-four miles a second — three time faster 
than the earth goes round the sun, — yet such is the 
remoteness of those stars that no appreciable 
change is evident to the senses. The fixed stars 
taught him nothing. 

Far otherwise was it with the planets. The orbits 
of Venus and Mercury are within the orbit of the 
earth, Venus rotating at an average distance of 
66,130,000 miles from the sun, and Mercury at 
that of 35,393,000. After pondering long, and as 
profoundly as he could, upon these figures, Captain 
Servadac came to the conclusion that, as the earth 
was now receiving about double the amount of light 
and heat that it had been receiving before the catas- 
trophe, it was receiving about the same as the planet 
Venus ; he was driven, therefore, to the estimate of 
the measure in which the earth must have approxi- 
mated to the sun, a deduction in which he was con- 
firmed when the opportunity came for him to ob- 
serve Venus herself in the splendid proportions 
that she now assumed. 

That magnificent planet which — as Phosphorus or 
Lucifer, Hesperus or Vesper, the evening star, the 
morning star, or the shepherd's star — has never 
failed to attract the rapturous admiration of the 
most indifferent observers, here revealed herself 
with unprecedented glory, exhibiting all the phases 
of a lustrous moon in miniature. Various indenta- 
tions in the outline of its crescent showed that the 
solar beams were refracted into regions of its sur- 
face where the sun had already set, and proved, 
beyond a doubt, that the planet had an atmosphere 
of her own; and certain luminous points projecting 
from the crescent as plainly marked the existence of 
mountains. As the result of Servadae's computa- 
tions he formed the opinion that Venus could hardly 
be at a greater distance than 6,000,000 miles from 
the earth. 

"And a very safe distance, too," said Ben Zoof, 
when his master told him the conclusion at which 
he had arrived. 

"All very well for two armies, but for a couple 
of planets not quite so safe, perhaps, as you may 
imagine. It is my impression that it is more than 
likely we may run foul of Venus," said the captain. 

"Plenty of air and water there, sir?" inquired the 
orderly. 

"Yes; as far as I can tell, plenty," replied Ser- 
vadac. 

"Then why shouldn't we go and visit Venus?" 

Servadac did his best to explain that as the two 



planets were of about equal volume, and were travel- 
ing with great velocity in opposite directions, any 
collision between them must be attended with the 
most disastrous consequences to one or both of them. 
But Ben Zoof failed to see that, even at the worst, 
the catastrophe could be much more serious than 
the collision of two railway trains. 

The captain became exasperated. "You idiot!" 
he angrily exclaimed ; "cannot you understand that 
the planets are traveling a thousand times faster 
than the fastest express, and that if they meet, 
either one or the other must be destroyed? What 
would become of your darling Montmartre then?" 

The captain had touched a tender chord. For a 
moment Ben Zoof stood with clenched teeth and 
contracted muscles; then, in a voice of real concern, 
he inquired whether anything could be done to avert 
the calamity. 

"Nothing whatever; so you may go about your 
own business," was the captain's brusque rejoinder. 

All discomfited and bewildered, Ben Zoof retired 
without a word. 

During the ensuing days the distance between 
the two planets continued to decrease, and it be- 
came more and more obvious that the earth, on her 
new orbit, was about to cross the orbit of Venus. 
Throughout this time the earth had been making 
a perceptible approach towards Mercury, and that 
planet — which is rarely visible to the naked eye, 
and then only at what are termed the periods of its 
greatest eastern and western elongations — ni,w ap- 
peared in all its splendor. It amply justified the 
epithet of "sparkling" which the ancients were ac- 
customed to confer upon it, and could scarcely fail 
to awaken anew interest. The periodic recurrence 
of its phases; its reflection of the sun's rays, shed- 
ding upon it a light and a heat seven times greater 
than that received by the earth; its glacial and 
its torrid zones, which, on account of the great 
inclination of the axis, are scarcely separable; its 
equatorial bands; its mountains eleven miles high; 
— were all subjects of observation worthy of the 
most studious regard. 

But no danger was to be apprehended from Mer- 
cury; with Venus only did collision appear im- 
minent. By the 18th of January the distance be- 
tween that planet and the earth had become reduced 
to between two and three millions of miles, and the 
intensity of its light cast heavy shadows from all 
terrestrial objects. It might be observed to turn 
upon its own axis in twenty-three hours twenty-one 
minutes — an evidence, from the unaltered duration 
of its days, that the planet had not shared in the 
disturbance. On its disc the clouds formed from 
its atmospheric vapor were plainly perceptible, as 
also were the seven spots, which, according to Bian- 
chini, are a chain of seas. It was now visible in 
broad daylight. Bonaparte, when under the Direc- 
tory, once had his attention called to Venus at noon, 
and immediately hailed it joyfully, recognizing it as 
his own peculiar star in the ascendant. Captain 
Servadac, it may well be imagined, did not experi- 
ence the same gratifying emotion. 

On the 20th, the distance between the two bodies 
had again sensibly diminished. The captain had 
ceased to be surprised that no vessel had been sent 
to rescue himself and his companion from their 
strange imprisonment; the governor general and 
the minister of war were doubtless far differently 



OFF ON A COMET 



19 



occupied, and their interests far otherwise en- 
grossed. What sensational articles, he thought, must 
now be teeming to the newspapers! What crowds 
must be flocking to the churches! The end of the 
world approaching! the great climax close at hand! 
Two days more, and the earth, shivered into a 
myriad atoms, would be lost in boundless apace! 

These dire forebodings, however, were not des- 
tined to be realized. Gradually the distance between 
the two planets began to increase; the planes of 
their orbits did not coincide, and accordingly the 
dreaded catastrophe did not ensue. By the 25th, 
Venus was sufficiently remote to preclude any fur- 
ther fear of collision. Ben Zoof gave a sigh of 
relief when the captain communicated the glad in- 
telligence. 

Their proximity to Venus had been close enough 
to demonstrate that beyond a doubt that planet has 
no moon or satellite such as Cassini, Short, Mon- 
taigne of Limoges, Montbarron, and some other 
astronomers have imagined to exist. "Had there 
been such a satellite," said Servadac, "we might 
have captured it in passing. But what can be the 
meaning," he added seriously, "of all this displace- 
ment of the heavenly bodies?" 

"What is that great building at Paris, captain, 
with a top like a cap?" asked Ben Zoof. 

"Do you mean the Observatory?" 

"Yes, the Observatory. Are there not people liv- 
ing in the Observatory who could explain all this?" 

"Very likely; but what of that?" 

"Let us be philosophers, and wait patiently until 
we can hear their explanation." 

Servadac smiled. "Do you know what it is to be 
a philosopher, Ben Zoof?" he asked. 

"I am a soldier, sir," was the servant's prompt re- 
joinder, "and I have learnt to know that 'what can't 
be cured must be endured.' " 

The captain made no reply, but for a time, at 
least, he desisted from puzzling himself over mat- 
ters which he felt he was utterly incompetent to 
explain. But an event soon afterwards occurred 
which awakened his keenest interest. 

About nine o'clock on the morning of the 27th, 
Ben Zoof walked deliberately into his master's 
apartment, and, in reply to a question as to what 
he wanted, announced with the utmost composure 
that a ship was in sight. 

"A ship!" exclaimed Servadac, starting to his 
feet. "A ship! Ben Zoof, you donkey! you speak 
as unconcernedly as though you were telling me that 
my dinner was ready." 

"Are we not philosophers, captain?" said the 
orderly. 

But the captain was out of hearing:. 

CHAPTER IX 

INQUIRIES UNSATISFIED 

Fast as his legs could carry him, Servadac had 
made his way to the top of the cliff. It was quite 
true that a vessel was in sight, hardly more than 
six miles from the shore; but owing to the increase 
in the earth's convexity, and the consequent limita- 
tion of the range of vision, the rigging of the top- 
masts alone was visible above the water. This was 
enough, however, to indicate that the ship was a 
schooner — an impression that was confirmed when, 
two hours later, she came entirely in sight. 



"The Dobryna!" exclaimed Servadac, keeping his 
eye unmoved at his telescope. 

"Impossible sir!" rejoined Ben Zoof; "there are 
no signs of smoke. 

"The Dobryna!" repeated the captain, positively. 
"She is under sail; but she is Count Timaseheff's 
yacht." 

He was right. If the count were on board, a 
strange fatality was bringing him to the presence 
of his rival. But no longer now could Servadac 
regard him in the light of an adversary; circum- 
stances had changed, and all animosity was ab- 
sorbed in the eagerness with which he hailed the 
prospect of obtaining some information about the 
recent startling and inexplicable events. During the 
twenty-seven days that she had been absent, the 
Dobryna, he conjectured, would have explored the 
Mediterranean, would very probably have visited 
Spain, France, or Italy, and accordingly would con- 
vey to Gourbi Island some intelligence from one 
or other of those countries. He reckoned, therefore, 
not only upon ascertaining the extent of the late 
catastrophe, but upon learning its cause. Count 
Timascheff was, no doubt, magnanimously coming 
to the rescue of himself and his orderly. 

The wind being adverse, the Dobryna did not 
make very rapid progress; but as the weather, in 
spite of a few clouds, remained calm, and the sea 
was quite smooth, she was enabled to hold a steady 
course. It seemed unaccountable that she should 
not use her engine, as whoever was on board, would 
be naturally impatient to re con no iter the new 
island, which must just have come within their 
view. The probability that suggested itself was 
that the schooner's fuel was exhausted. 

Servadac took it for granted that the Dobryna 
was endeavoring to put in. It oecurreoVto him, how- 
ever, that the count, on discovering an island where 
he had expected to find the mainland of Africa, 
would not unlikely be at a loss for a place of an- 
chorage. The yacht was evidently making her way 
in the direction of the former mouth of the Shelif, 
and the captain was struck with the idea that he 
would do well to investigate whether there was any 
suitable harbor towards which he might signal 
her. Zephyr and Gallette were soon saddled, and 
in twenty minutes had carried their riders to the 
western extremity of the island, where they both 
dismounted and began to explore the coast. 

They were not long in ascertaining that on the 
.farther side of the point there was a small well- 
sheltered creek of sufficient depth to accommodate 
a vessel of moderate tonnage. A narrow channel 
formed a passage through the ridge of rocks that 
protected it from the open sea, and which, even in 
the roughest weather, would ensure the calmness 
of its waters, 

Whilst examining the rocky shore, the captain 
observed, to his great surprise, long and well-de- 
fined rows of seaweed, which undoubtedly betokened 
that there had been a very considerable ebb and 
flow of the waters — a thing unknown in the Medi- 
terranean, where there is scarcely any perceptible 
tide. What, however, seemed most remarkable, was 
the manifest evidence that ever since the highest 
flood (which was caused, in all probability, by the 
proximity of the body of which the huge disc had 
been so conspicuous on the night of the 31st of De- 
cember) the phenomenon had been gradually lessen- 



20 



AMAZING STORIES 



ing, and in fact was now reduced to the normal 
limits which had characterized it before the con- 
vulsion. 

Without doing more than note the circumstance, 
Servadac turned his entire attention to the Dob- 
ryna, which, now little more than a mile from shore, 
could not fail to see and understand his signals. 
Slightly changing her course, she first lowered her 
mainsail, and, in order to facilitate the movements 
of her helmsman, soon carried nothing but her two 
topsails, brigantine and jib. After rounding the 
peak, she steered direct for the channel to which 
Servadac by his gestures was pointing her, and wa3 
not long in entering the creek. As soon as the 
anchor, imbedded in the sandy bottom, had made 
good its hold, a boat was lowered. In a few minutes 
more Count Timascheff had landed on the island. 
Captain Servadac hastened towards bim. 

"First of all, count," he exclaimed impetuously, 
"before we speak one other word, tell me what has 



The count, whose imperturbable composure pre- 
sented a singular contrast to the French officer's 
enthusiastic vivacity, made a stiff bow, and in his 
Russian accent replied: "First of all, permit me to 
express my surprise at seeing you here. I left you 
on a continent, and here I have the honor of finding 
you on an island." 

"I assure yon, count, I have never left the place." 

"I am quite aware of it, Captain Servadac, and 
I now beg to offer you my sincere apologies for 
failing to keep my appointment with you." 

"Never mind, now," interposed the captain; "we 
will talk of that by-and-by. First, tell me what has 
happened." 

"The very question I was about to put to you, 
Captain Servadac." 

"Do you mean to say you know nothing of the 
cause, and can tell me nothing of the extent, of the 
catastrophe which has transformed this part of 
Africa into an island?" 

"Nothing more than you know yourself." 

"But surely, Count Timascheff, you can inform 
me whether upon the northern shore of the Medi- 
terranean " 

"Are you certain that this is the Mediterranean?" 
asked the count significantly, and added, "I have 
discovered no sign of land." 

The captain stared in silent bewilderment. For 
some moments he seemed perfectly stupefied ; then, 
recovering himself, he began to overwhelm the 
count with a torrent of questions. Had he noticed, 
ever since the 1st of January, that the sun had risen 
in the west? Had he noticed that the days had been 
only six hours long, and that the weight of the 
atmosphere was so much diminished? Had he ob- 
served that the moon had quite disappeared, and 
that the earth had been in imminent hazard of run- 
ning foul of the planet Venus? Was he aware, in 
short, that the entire motions of the terrestrial 
sphere had undergone a complete modification? To 
all these inquiries, the count responded in the affirm- 
ative. He was acquainted with everything that had 
transpired; but, to Servadac's increasing astonish- 
ment, he could throw no light upon the cause of 
any of the phenomena. 

"On the night of the 31st of December," he said, 
"I was proceeding by sea to our appointed place 
of meeting, when my yacht was suddenly caught on 



the crest of an enormous wave, and carried to a 
height which it is beyond my power to estimate. 
Some mysterious force seemed to have brought 
about a convulsion of the elements. Our engine 
was damaged, nay disabled, and we drifted entirely 
at the mercy of the terrible hurricane that raged 
during the succeeding days. That the Dobryna 
escaped at all is little less than a miracle, and I can 
only attribute her safety to the fact that she oc- 
cupied the center of the vast cyclone, and conse- 
quently did not experience much change of posi- 
tion." 

He paused, and added: "Your island is the first 
land we have seen." 

"Then let us put out to sea at once and ascer- 
tain the extent of the disaster," cried the captain 
eagerly. "You will take me on board, count, will 
you not?" 

"My yacht is at your service, sir, even should 
you require to make a tour round the world." 

"A tour round the Mediterranean will suffice for 
the present, I think," said the captain, smiling. 

The count shook his head. 

"I am not sure," said he, "but what the tour of 
the Mediterranean will prove to be the tour of the 
world." 

Servadac made no reply, but for a time remained 
silent and absorbed in thought. 

After the silence was broken, they consulted as 
to what course was best to pursue; and the plan 
they proposed was, in the first place, to discover 
how much of the African coast still remained, and 
to carry on the tidings of their own experiences 
to Algiers; or, in the event of the southern shore 
having actually disappeared, they would make their 
way northwards and put themselves in communica- 
tion with the population on the southern shores of 
Europe. 

Before starting, it was indispensable that the 
engine of the Dobryna should be repaired: to sail 
under canvas only would in contrary winds and 
rough seas be both tedious and difficult. The stock 
of coal on board was adequate for two months' con- 
sumption; but as it would at the expiration of that 
time be exhausted, it was obviously the part of pru- 
dence to employ it in reaching a port where fuel 
could be replenished. 

The damage sustained by the engine proved to 
be not very serious; and in three days after her 
arrival the Dobryna was again ready to put to sea, 

Servadac employed the interval in making the 
count acquainted with all he knew about his small 
domain. They made an entire circuit of the island, 
and both agreed that it must be beyond the limits 
of that circumscribed territory that they must seek 
an explanation of what had so strangely transpired. 

It was on the last day of January that the repairs 
of the schooner were completed. A slight diminu- 
tion in the excessively high temperature which had 
prevailed for the last few weeks, was the only ap- 
parent change in the general order of things ; but 
whether this was to be attributed to any alteration 
in the earth's orbit was a question which would still 
require several days to decide. The weather re- 
mained fine, and although a few clouds had accumu- 
lated, and might have caused a trifling fall of the 
barometer, they were not sufficiently threatening to 
delay the departure of the Dobryna. 

Doubts now arose, and some discussion followed. 



OFF ON A COMET 



21 



whether or not it was desirable for Ben Zoof to 
accompany his master. There were various reasons 
why he should be left behind, not the least im- 
portant being that the schooner had no accommoda- 
tion for horses, and the orderly would have found 
it hard to part with Zephyr, and much more with 
his own favorite Galette; besides, it was advisable 
that there should be some one left to receive any 
stfwngers that might possibly arrive, as well as to 
keep an eye upon the herds of cattle which, in the 
dubious prospect before them, might prove to be 
the sole resource of the survivors of the catas- 
trophe. Altogether, taking into consideration that 
the grave fellow would incur no personal risk by 
remaining upon the island, the captain was induced 
with much reluctance to forego the attendance of 
his servant, hoping very shortly to return and to 
restore him to his country, when he had ascertained 
the solution of the mysteries in which they were 
enveloped. 

On the 31st, then, Ben Zoof was "invested with 
governor's powers," and took an affecting leave of 
his master, begging him, if chance should carry 
him near Montmartre, to ascertain whether the be- 
loved "mountain" had been left unmoved. 

Farewells over, the Dobryna was carefully steered 
through the creek, and was soon upon the open seas. 



CHAPTER X 

A SEARCH FOR ALGERIA 

The Dobryna, a strong craft of 200 tons burden, 
had been built in the famous shipbuilding yards 
of the Isle of Wight. Her sea-going qualities were 
excellent, and would have amply sufficed for a cir- 
cumnavigation of the globe. 

Count Timascheff was himself no sailor, but had 
the greatest confidence in leaving the command of 
his yacht in the hands of Lieutenant Procope, a 
man of about thirty years of age, and an excellent 
seaman. Born on the count's estates, the son of a 
serf who had been emancipated long before the 
famous edict of the Emperor Alexander, Procope 
was sincerely attached, by a tie of gratitude as well 
as of duty and affection, to his patron's service. 
After an apprenticeship on a merchant ship he had 
entered the imperial navy, and had already reached 
the rank of lieutenant when the count appointed 
him to the charge of his own private yacht, in which 
he was accustomed to spend by far the greater part 
of his time, throughout the winter generally cruis- 
ing in the Mediterranean, whilst in the summer he 
visited more northern waters. 

The ship could not have been in better hands. The 
lieutenant was well informed in many matters out- 
side the pale of his profession, and his attainments 
were alike creditable to himself and to the liberal 
friend who had given him his education. He had an 
excellent crew, consisting of Tiglew, the engineer, 
four sailors named Niegoch, Tolstoy, Etkef, and 
Ponafka, and Mochel the cook. These men, without 
exception, were all sons of the count's tenants, and 
so tenaciously, even out at sea, did they cling to 
their old traditions, that it mattered little to them 
what physical disorganization ensued, so long as 
they felt they were sharing the experiences of their 
lord and master. The late astounding events, how- 



ever, had rendered Procope manifestly uneasy, and 
not the less so from his consciousness that the count 
secretly partook of his own anxiety. 

Steam up and canvas spread, the schooner started 
eastward. With a favorable wind she would cer- 
tainly have made eleven knots an hour had not the 
high waves somewhat impeded her progress. Al- 
though only a moderate breeze was blowing, the sea 
was rough, a circumstance to be accounted for only 
by the diminution in the force of the earth's attrac- 
tion rendering the liquid particles so buoyant, that 
by the mere effect of oscillation they were carried 
to a height that was quite unprecedented. M. Arago 
has fixed twenty-five or twenty-six feet as the maxi- 
mum elevation ever attained by the highest waves, 
and his astonishment would have been very great 
to see them rising fifty or even sixty feet. Nor did 
these waves in the usual way partially unfurl them- 
selves and rebound against the sides of the vessel; 
they might rather be described as long undulations 
carrying the schooner (its weight diminished from 
the same cause as that of the water) alternately 
to such heights and depths, that if Captain Ser- 
vadac had been subject to seasickness he must have 
found himself in sorry plight. As the pitching, 
however, was the result of a long uniform swell, the 
yacht did not labor much harder than she would 
against the ordinary short strong waves of the 
Mediterranean; the main inconvenience that was 
experienced was the diminution in her proper rate 
of speed. 

For a few miles she followed the line hitherto 
presumably occupied by the coa3t of Algeria; but 
no land appeared to the south. The changed posi- 
tions of the planets rendered them of no avail for 
purposes of nautical observation, nor could Lieu- 
tenant Procope calculate his latitude and longitude 
by the altitude of the sun, as his reckonings would 
be useless when applied to charts that had been 
constructed for the old order of things; but never- 
theless, by means of the log, which gave him the 
rate of progress, and by the compass which indi- 
cated the direction in which they were sailing, he 
was able to form an estimate of his position that 
was sufficiently free from error for his immediate 
need. 

Happily the recent phenomena had no effect upon 
the compass; the magnetic needle, which in these 
regions had pointed about 22° from the north pole, 
had never deviated in the least — a proof that, 
although east and west had apparently changed 
places, north and south continued to retain their 
normal position as cardinal points. The log and 
the compass, therefore, were now to be called upon 
to do the work of the sextant and chronometer, 
which had become utterly useless. 

On the first morning of the cruise Lieutenant 
Procope, who, like most Russians, spoke French 
fluently, was explaining these peculiarities to Cap- 
tain Servadac; the count was present, and the con- 
versation perpetually recurred, as naturally it 
would, to the phenomena which remained so inex- 
plicable to them all. 

"It is very evident," said the lieutenant, "that 
ever since the 1st of January the earth has been 
moving in a new orbit, and from some unknown 
cause has drawn nearer to the sun." 

"No doubt about that," said Servadac; " and I 
suppose that, having crossed the orbit of Venus, we 



22 



AMAZING STORIES 



have a good chance of running into the orbit of 
Mercury." 

"And finish up by a collision with the sun !" added 
the count. 

"There is no fear of that," sir. The earth has 
undoubtedly entered upon a new orbit, but she is 
not incurring any probable risk of being precipi- 
tated into the sun." 

"Can you satisfy us of that?" asked the count. 

"I can, sir. I can give you a proof which I think 
you will own is conclusive. If, as you suppose, the 
earth is being drawn on so as to be precipitated 
against the sun, the great center of attraction of 
our system, it could only be because the centrifugal 
and centripetal forces that cause the planets to 
rotate in their several orbits had been entirely sus- 
pended: in that case, indeed, the earth would rush 
onwards towards the sun, and in sixty-four days 
and a half the catastrophe you dread would inevit- 
ably happen." 

"And what demonstration do you offer," asked 
Servadac eagerly, "that it will not happen?" 

"Simply this, captain: that since the earth en- 
tered her new orbit half the sixty-four days has 
already elapsed, and yet it is only just recently that 
she has crossed the orbit of Venus, hardly one-third 
of the distance to be traversed to reach the sun." 

The lieutenant paused to allow time for reflec- 
tion, and added: "Moreover, I have every reason 
to believe that we are not so near the sun as we 
have been. The temperature has been gradually 
diminishing; the heat upon Gourbi Island is not 
greater now than we might ordinarily expect to 
find in Algeria. At the same time, we have the 
problem still unsolved that the Mediterranean has 
evidently been transported to the equatorial zone." 

Both the count and the captain expressed them- 
selves reassured by his representations, and ob- 
served that they must now do all in their power 
to discover what had become of the vast continent 
of Africa, of which, they were hitherto failing so 
completely to find a vestige. 

Twenty-four hours after leaving the island, the 
Dobryna had passed over the sites where Tenes, 
Cherchil, Koleah, and Sidi-Feruch once had been, 
but of these towns not one appeared within range 
of the telescope. Ocean reigned supreme. Lieu- 
tenant Procope was absolutely certain that he had 
not mistaken his direction ; the compass showed that 
the wind had never shifted from the west, and this, 
with the rate of speed as estimated by the log, com- 
bined to assure him that at this date, the 2nd of 
February, the schooner was in lat. 36° 49' N. and 
long. 3° 25' E., the very spot which ought to have 
been occupied by the Algerian capital. But Algiers, 
like all the other coast-towns, had apparently been 
absorbed into the bowels of the earth. 

Captain Servadac, with clenched teeth and knit- 
ted brow, .stood sternly, almost fiercely, regarding 
the boundless waste of water. His pulse beat fast 
as he recalled the friends and comrades with whom 
he had spent the last few years in that vanished 
city. AH the images of his past life floated upon 
his memory; his thoughts sped away to his native 
France, only to return again to wonder whether 
the depths of ocean would reveal any traces of the 
Algerian metropolis. 

"Is it not impossible," he murmured aloud, "that 



any city should disappear so completely? Would 
not the loftiest eminences of the city at least be 
visible? Surely some portion of the Casbah must 
still rise above the waves? The imperial fort, too, 
was built upon an elevation of 750 feet; it is in- 
credible that it shouid be so totally submerged. Un- 
less some vestiges of these are found, I shall begin 
to suspect that the whole of Africa has been swal- 
lowed in some vast abyss." 

Another circumstance was most remarkable. Not 
a material object of any kind was to be noticed float- 
ing on the surface of the water; not one branch of 
a tree had been seen drifting by, nor one spar be- 
longing to one of the numerous vessels that a month 
previously had been moored in the magnificent bay 
which stretched twelve miles across from Cape 
Matafuz to Point Fexade. Perhaps the depths 
might disclose what the surface failed to reveal, 
and Count TimaschefF, anxious that Servadac 
should have every facility afforded him for solving 
his doubts, called for the sounding-line. Forthwith, 
the lead was greased and lowered. To the surprise 
of all, and especially of Lieutenant Procope, the line 
indicated a bottom at a nearly uniform depth of 
from four to five fathoms ; and although the sound- 
ing was persevered with continuously for more than 
two hours over a considerable area, the differences 
of level were insignificant, not corresponding in any 
degree to what would be expected over the site of 
a city that had been terraced like the seats of an 
amphitheater. Astounding as it seemed, what alter- 
native was left but to suppose that the Algerian 
capital hadbeen completely leveled by the flood? 

The sea-bottom was composed of neither rock, 
mud, sand, nor shells; the sounding-lead brought 
up nothing but a kind of metallic dust, which glit- 
tered with a strange iridescence, and the nature of 
which it was impossible to determine, as it was 
totally unlike what had ever been known to be raised 
from the bed of the Mediterranean. 

"You must see, lieutenant, I should think, that 
we are not so near the coast of Algeria as you im- 
agined." 

The lieutenant shook his head. After pondering 
awhile, he said: "If we were farther away I should 
expect to find a depth of two or three hundred 
fathoms instead of five fathoms. Five fathoms! 
I confess I am puzzled." 

For the next thirty-six hours, until the 4th of 
February, the sea was examined and explored with 
the most unflagging perseverance. Its depth re- 
mained invariable, still four, or at most five, 
fathoms; and although its bottom was assiduously 
dredged, it was only to prove it barren of marine 
production of any type. 

The yacht made its way to lat. 36° north, by refer- 
ence to the charts it was tolerably certain that she 
was cruising over the site of the Sahel, the ridge 
that had separated the rich plain of the Mitidja 
from the sea, and of which the highest peak. Mount 
Bourjerah, had reached an altitude of 1,200 feet; 
but even this peak, which might have been expected 
to emerge like an islet above the surface of the 3ea, 
was nowhere to be traced. Nothing was to be done 
but to put about, and return in disappointment to- 
wards the north. 

Thus the Dobryna regained . the waters of the 
Mediterranean without discovering a trace of the 
missing province of Algeria. 



OFF ON A COMET 



23 



CHAPTER XI 

AN ISLAND TOMB 



No longer then, could there he any doubt as 
to the annihilation of a considerable portion of the 
colony. Not merely had there been a submersion 
of the land, but the impression was more and more 
confirmed that the very bowels of the earth must 
have yawned and closed again upon a large terri- 
tory. Of the rocky substratum of the province it 
became more evident than ever that not a trace re- 
mained, and a new soil of unknown formation had 
certainly taken the place of the old sandy sea-bot- 
tom. As it altogether transcended the powers of 
those on board to elucidate the origin of this catas- 
trophe, it was felt to be incumbent on them at least 
to ascertain its extent. 

After a long and somewhat wavering discussion, 
it was at length decided that the schooner should 
take advantage of the favorable wind and weather, 
and proceed at first towards the east, thus following 
the outline of what had formerly represented the 
coast of Africa, until that coast had been lost in 
boundless sea. 

Not a vestige of it all remained ; from Cape Mata- 
fuz to Tunis it had all gone, as though it had never 
been. The maritime town of Dell is, built like 
Algiers, amphitheater-wise, had totally disap- 
peared; the highest points were quite invisible; not 
a trace on the horizon was left of the Jurjura chain, 
the topmost point of which was known to have an 
altitude of more than 7,000 feet. 

Unsparing of her fuel, the Dobryna made her way 
at full steam towards Cape Blanc. Neither Cape 
Negro nor Cape Serrat was to be seen. The town 
of Eizerta, once charming in its oriental beauty, 
had vanished utterly; its marabouts, or temple- 
tombs, shaded by magnificent palms that fringed the 
gulf, which by reason of its narrow mouth had the 
semblance of a lake, all had disappeared, giving 
place to a vast waste of sea, the transparent waters 
of which, as still demonstrated by the sounding-line, 
had ever the same uniform and arid bottom. 

In the course of the day the schooner rounded the 
point where, five weeks previously, Cape Blanc had 
been so conspicuous an object, and she was now 
stemming the waters of what once had been the 
Bay of Tunis. But bay there was none, and 
the town from which it had derived its name, with 
the Arsenal, the Goletta, and the two peaks of Bou- 
Kournein, had all vanished from the view. Cape 
Bon, too, the most northern promontory of Africa 
and the point of the continent nearest to the island 
of Sicily, had been included in the general devas- 
tation. 

Before the occurrence of the recent prodigy, the 
bottom of the Mediterranean just at this point had 
formed a sudden ridge across the Straits of Libya. 
The sides of the ridge had shelved to so great an 
extent that, while the depth of water on the summit 
had been little more than eleven fathoms, that on 
either hand of the elevation was little short of a 
hundred fathoms. A formation such as this plainly 
indicated that at some remote epoch Cape Bon had 
been connected with Cape Furina, the extremity 
of Sicily, in the same manner as Ceuta has doubtless 
been connected with Gibraltar. 

Lieutenant Procope was too well acquainted with 
the Mediterranean to be unaware of this peculiarity, 



and would not lose the opportunity of ascertaining 
whether the submarine ridge still existed, or 
whether the sea-bottom between Sicily and Africa 
had undergone any modification. 

Both Timaseheff and Servadae were much in- 
terested in jvatching the operations. At a sign from 
the lieutenant, a sailor who was stationed at the 
foot of the fore-shrouds dropped the sounding-lead 
into the water, and in reply to Procope'a inquiries, 
reported — "Five fathoms and a flat bottom." 

The next aim was to determine the amount of 
depression on either side of the ridge, and for this 
purpose the Dobryna was shifted for a distance of 
half a mile both to the right and left, and the sound- 
ings taken at each station. "Five fathoms and a 
flat bottom," was the unvaried announcement after 
each operation. Not only, therefore, was it evident 
that the submerged chain between Cape Eon and 
Cape Furina no longer existed, but it was equally 
clear that the convulsion had caused a general level- 
ing of the sea-bottom, and that the soil, degenerated, 
as it has been said, into a metallic dust of unrecog- 
nized composition, bore no trace of the sponges, 
sea-anemones, star-fish, sea-nettles, hydrophytes, 
and shells with which the submarine rocks of the 
Mediterranean had hitherto been prodigally clothed. 

The Dobryna now put about and resumed her 
explorations in a southerly direction. It remained, 
however, as remarkable as ever how completely 
throughout the voyage the sea continued to be de- 
serted; all expectations of hailing a vessel bearing 
news from Europe were entirely falsified, so that 
more and more each member of the crew began to 
be conscious of his isolation, and to believe that the 
schooner, like a second Noah's ark, carried the sole 
survivors of a calamity that had overwhelmed the 
earth. 

On the 9th of February the Dobryna passed over 
the site of the city of Dido, the ancient Byrsa — 
a Carthage, however, which was now more com- 
pletely annihilated than ever Punic Carthage had 
been destroyed by Scipio Africanus or Roman 
Carthage by Hassan the Saracen. 

In the evening, as the sun was sinking below the 
eastern horizon. Captain Servadae was lounging 
moodily against the taffrail. From the heaven 
above, where stars kept peeping fitfully from be- 
hind the moving clouds, his eye wandered mechan- 
ically to the waters below, where the long waves 
were rising and falling with the evening breeze. 

All at once, his attention was arrested by a lu- 
minous speck straight ahead on the southern hor- 
izon. At first, imagining that he was the victim 
of some spectral illusion, he observed it with silent 
attention ; but when, after some minutes, he became 
convinced that what he saw was actually a distant 
light, he appealed to one of the sailors, by whom his 
impression was fully corroborated. The intelligence 
was immediately imparted to Count Timaseheff and 
the lieutenant. 

"Is it land, do you suppose?" inquired Servadae, 
eagerly. 

"I should be more inclined to think it is a light 
on board some ship," replied the count. 

"Whatever it is, in another hour we shall know 
all about it," said Servadae, 

"No, captain," interposed Lieutenant Procope; 
"we shall know nothing until to-morrow." 



24 



AMAZING STORIES 



"What! not bear down upon it at once?" asked 
the count in surprise. 

"No, sir; I should much rather lie to and wait 
till daylight. If we are really near land, I should 
be afraid to approach it in the dark." 

The count expressed his approval of the lieu- 
tenant's caution, and thereupon all sail was short- 
ened so as to keep the Dobryna from making any 
considerable progress all through the hours of night. 
Few as those hours were, they seemed to those on 
board as if their end would never come. Fearful 
lest the faint glimmer should at any moment cease 
to be visible, Hector Servadac did not quit his post 
upon the deck; but the light continued unchanged. 
It shone with about the same degree of luster as a 
star of the second magnitude, and from the fact 
of its remaining stationary, Procope became more 
and more convinced that it was on land and did 
not belong to a passing vessel. 

At sunrise every telescope was pointed with 
keenest interest towards the center of attraction. 
The light, of course, had ceased to be visible, but 
in the direction where it had been seen, and at a 
distance of about ten miles, there was the distinct 
outline of a solitary island of very small extent; 
rather, as the count observed, it had the appearance 
of being the projecting summit of a mountain all 
but submerged. Whatever it was, it was agreed 
that its true character must be ascertained, not only 
to gratify their own curiosity, but for the benefit 
of all future navigators. The schooner accordingly 
was steered directly towards it, and in less than 
an hour had cast anchor within a few cables' lengths 
of the shore. 

The little island proved to be nothing more than 
an arid rock rising abruptly about forty feet above 
the water. It had no outlying reefs, a circumstance 
that seemed to suggest the probability that in the 
recent convulsion it had sunk gradually, until it 
had reached its present position of equilibrium. 

Without removing his eye from his telescope, Ser- 
vadac exclaimed: "There is a. habitation on the 
place; I can see an erection of some kind quite dis- 
tinctly. Who can tell whether we shall not come 
across a human being?" 

Lieutenant Procope looked doubtful. The island 
had all the appearance of being deserted, nor did a 
cannon-shot fired from the schooner have the effect 
of bringing any resident to the shore. Neverthe- 
less, it was undeniable that there was a stone build- 
ing situated on the top of the rock, and that this 
building had much the character of an Arabian 
mosque. 

The boat was lowered and manned by the four 
sailors; Servadac, Timascheff and Procope were 
quickly rowed ashore, and lost no time in commenc- 
ing their ascent of the steep acclivity. Upon reach- 
ing the summit, they found their progress arrested 
by a kind of wall, or rampart of singular construc- 
tion, it3 materials consisting mainly of vases, frag- 
ments of columns, carved bas-reliefs, statues, and 
portions of broken stela?, all piled promiscuously 
together without any pretense to artistic arrange- 
ment. They made their way into the enclosure, 
and finding an open door, they passed through and 
soon came to a second door, also open, which ad- 
mitted them to the interior of the mosque, consist- 
ing of a single chamber, the walls of which were 
ornamented in the Arabian style by sculptures of 



indifferent execution. In the center was a tomb of 
the very simplest kind, and above the tomb was 
suspended a large silver lamp with a capacious res- 
ervoir of oil, in which floated a long lighted wick, 
the flame of which was evidently the light that had 
attracted Servadac's attention on the previous 
night. 

"Must there not have been a custodian of the 
shrine?" they mutually asked; but if such there had 
ever been, he must, they concluded, either have fled 
or have perished on that eventful night. Not a 
soul was there in charge, and the sole living occu- 
pants were a flock of wild cormorants which, star- 
tled at the entrance of the intruders, rose on wing, 
and took a rapid flight towards the south. 

An old French prayer-book was lying on the 
corner of the tomb; the volume was open, and 
the page exposed to view was that which contained 
the office for the celebration of the 25th of August. 
A sudden revelation dashed across Servadac's mind. 
The solemn isolation of the island tomb, the open 
breviary, the ritual of the ancient anniversary, all 
combined to apprise him of the sanctity of the 
spot upon which he stood. 

"The tomb of St. Louis!" he exclaimed, and his 
companions involuntarily followed his example, and 
made a reverential obeisance to the venerated monu- 
ment. 

It was, in truth, the very spot on which tradition 
asserts that the canonized monarch came to die, a 
spot to which for six centuries and more his coun- 
trymen had paid the homage of a pious regard. 
The lamp that had been kindled at the memorial 
shrine of a saint was now in all probability the only 
beacon that threw a light across the waters of the 
Mediterranean, and even this ere long must itself 
expire. 

There was nothing more to explore. The three 
together quitted the mosque, and descended the rock 
to the shore, whence their boat re-conveyed them 
to the schooner, which was soon again on her south- 
ward voyage ; and it was not long before the tomb 
of St. Louis, the only spot that had survived the 
mysterious shock, was lost to view. 

CHAPTER XII 
AT THE MERCY OF THE WINDS 

As the affrighted cormorants had winged their 
flight towards the south, there sprang up a sanguine 
hope on board the schooner that land might be dis- 
covered in that direction. Thither, accordingly, it 
was determined to proceed, and in a few hours after 
quitting the island of the tomb, the Dobryna was 
traversing the shallow waters that now covered the 
peninsula of Dakhul, which had separated the Bay 
of Tunis from the Gulf of Hammamet. For two 
days she continued an undeviating course, and 
after a futile search for the coast of Tunis, reached 
the latitude of 34° north. 

Here, on the 11th of February, there suddenly 
arose the cry of "Land !" and in the extreme horizon, 
right ahead, where land had never been before, it 
was true enough that a shore was distinctly to be 
seen. What could it be? It could not be the coast 
of Tripoli; for not only would that low-lying shore 
be quite invisible at such a distance, but it was 
certain, moreover, that it lay two degrees at least 
still further south. It was soon observed that thi3 



OFF ON A COMET 



25 



newly discovered land was of very irregular eleva- 
tion, that it extended due east and west across the 
horizon, thus dividing the gulf into two separate 
sections and completely concealing the island of 
Jerba, which must lie behind. Its position was 
duly traced on the Dobryna's chart. 

"How strange," exclaimed Hector Servadac, "that 
after sailing all this time over sea where we ex- 
pected to find land, we have at last come upon land 
where we thought to find sea!" 

"Strange, indeed," replied Lieutenant Proeope; 
"and what appears to me almost as remarkable is 
that we have never once caught sight either of one 
of the Maltese tartans or one of the Levantine 
xebecs that traffic so regularly on the Mediterra- 

"Eastwards or westwards," asked the count — 
"which shall be our course? All farther progress 
to the south is checked." 

"Westwards," by all means," replied Servadac 
quickly. "I am longing to know whether anything 
of Algeria is left beyond the Shelif ; besides, as we 
pas3 Gourbi Island we might take Ben Zoof on 
board, and then make away for Gibraltar, where 
we should be sure to learn something, at least, of 
European news." 

With his usual air of stately courtesy, Count Tima- 
scheff begged the captain to consider the yacht at 
his own disposal, and desired him to give the lieu- 
tenant instructions accordingly. 

Lieutenant Proeope, however, hesitated, and after 
revolving matters for a few moments in his mind, 
pointed out that as the wind was blowing directly 
from the west, and seemed likely to increase, if 
they went to the west in the teeth of the weather, 
the schooner would be reduced to the use of her 
engine only, and would have much difficulty in 
making good headway; on the other hand, by taking 
an eastward course, not only would they have the 
advantage of the wind, but, under steam and canvas 
might hope in a few days to be off the coast of 
Egypt, and from Alexandria or some other port 
they would have the same opportunity of getting 
tidings from Europe as they would at Gibraltar. 

Intensely anxious as he was to revisit the prov- 
ince of Oran, and eager, too, to satisfy himself of 
the welfare of his faithful Ben Zoof, Servadac could 
not but own the reasonableness of the lieutenant's 
objections, and yielded to the proposal that the east- 
ward course should be adopted. The wind gave 
signs, only too threatening, of the breeze rising to 
a gale; but, fortunately, the waves did not culminate 
in combers, but rather in a long swell which ran 
in the same direction as the vessel. 

During the last fortnight the high temperature 
had been gradually diminishing, until it now 
reached an average of 20" Cent, (or 68" Fahr.) , and 
sometimes descended as low as 15°. That this dim- 
inution was to be attributed to the change in the 
earth's orbit was a question that admitted of little 
doubt. After approaching so near to the sun as to 
cross the orbit of Venus, the earth must now have 
receded so far from the sun that its normal distance 
of ninety-one millions of miles was greatly in- 
creased, and the probability was great that it was 
approximating to the orbit of Mars, that planet 
which in its physical constitution most nearly re- 
sembles our own. Nor was this supposition sug- 
gested merely by the lowering of the temperature; 



it was strongly corroborated by the reduction of 
the apparent diameter of the sun's disc to the pre- 
cise dimensions which it would assume to an ob- 
server actually stationed on the surface of Mars. 
The necessary inference that seemed to follow from 
these phenomena was that the earth had been pro- 
jected into a new orbit, which had the form of a 
very elongated ellipse. 

Very slight, however, in comparison was the re- 
gard which these astronomical wonders attracted on 
board the Dobryna. All interest there was too much 
absorbed in terrestrial matters, and in ascertaining 
what changes had taken place in the configuration of 
the earth itself, to permit much attention to be 
paid to its erratic movements through space. 

The schooner kept bravely on her way, but well 
out to sea, at a distance of two miles from land. 
There was good need of this precaution, for so 
precipitous was the shore that a vessel driven upon 
it must inevitably have gone to pieces; it did not 
offer a single harbor of refuge, but, smooth and 
perpendicular as the walls of a fortress, it rose to 
a height of two hundred, and occasionally of three 
hundred feet. The waves dashed violently against 
its base. Upon the general substratum rested a 
massive conglomerate, the crystallizations of which 
rose like a forest of gigantic pyramids and obelisks. 

But what struck the explorers more than anything 
was the appearance of singular newness that per- 
vaded the whole of the region. It all seemed so 
recent in its formation that the atmosphere had had 
no opportunity of producing its wonted effect in 
softening the hardness of its lines, in rounding the 
sharpness of its angles, or hi modifying the color 
of its surface; its outline was clearly marked 
against the sky, and its substance, smooth and 
polished as though fresh from a founder's mold, 
glittered with the metallic brilliancy that is char- 
acteristic of pyrites. It seemed impossible to com© 
to any other conclusion but that the land before 
them, continent or island, had been upheaved by 
subterranean forces above the surface of the sea, 
and that it was mainly composed of the same metal- 
lie element as had characterized the dust so fre- 
quently uplifted from the bottom. 

The extreme nakedness of the entire tract was 
likewise very extraordinary. Elsewhere, in various 
quarters of the globe, there may be sterile rocks, 
but there are none so adamant as to be altogether 
unfurrowed by the crevices engendered in the 
moist residuum of the condensed vapor; elsewhere 
there may be barren steeps, but none so'arid as 
not to afford some hold to vegetation, however low 
and elementary may be its type; but here all wa3 
bare, and blank, and desolate — not a symptom of 
vitality was visible. 

Such being the condition of the adjacent land, 
it could hardly be a matter of surprise that all the 
sea-birds, the albatross, the gull, the sea-mew, 
sought continual refuge on the schooner; day and 
night they perched fearlessly upon 'the yards, the 
report of a gun failing to dislodge them, and when 
food of any sort was thrown upon the deck, they 
would dart down and fight with eager voracity for 
the prize. Their extreme avidity was recognized as 
a proof that any land where they could obtain a 
sustenance must be very remote. 

Onwards thus for several days the Dobryna fol- 
lowed the contour of the inhospitable coast, of which 



26 



AMAZING STORIES 



the features would occasionally change, sometimes 
for two or three miles assuming the form of a 
simple arris, sharply defined as though cut by a 
chisel, when suddenly the prismatic lamella; soaring 
in rugged confusion would again recur; but all 
along there was the same absence of beach or tract 
of sand to mark its base, neither were there any 
of those shoals of rock that are ordinarily found in 
shallow water. At rare intervals there were some 
narrow fissures, but not a creek available for a ship 
to enter to replenish its supply of water; and the 
wide roadsteads were unprotected and exposed to 
well-nigh every point of the compass. 

But after sailing two hundred and forty miles, 
the progress of the Dobryna was suddenly arrested. 
Lieutenant Procope, who had sedulously inserted 
the outline of the newly revealed shore upon the 
maps, announced that it had ceased to run east and 
west, and had taken a turn due north, thus forming 
a barrier to their continuing their previous direc- 
tion. It was, of course, impossible to conjecture 
how far this barrier extended; it coincided pretty 
nearly with the fourteenth meridian of east long- 
itude ; and if it reached, as probably it did, beyond 
Sicily to Italy, it was certain that the vast basin of 
the Mediterranean, which had washed the shores 
alike of Europe, Asia, and Africa, must have been 
reduced to about half its original area. 

It was resolved to proceed upon the same plan as 
heretofore, following the boundary of the land at 
a safe distance. Accordingly, the head of the Dob- 
ryna was pointed north, making straight, as it was 
presumed, for the south of Europe. A hundred 
miles, or somewhat over, in that direction, and it 
was to be anticipated she would come in sight of 
Malta, if only that ancient island, the heritage in 
succession of Phtenicians Carthaginians, Sicilians, 
Romans, Vandals, Greeks, Arabians, and the knight3 
of Rhodes, should still be undestroyed. 

But Malta, too, was gone; and when, upon the 
14th, the sounding-line was dropped upon its site, it 
was only with the same result so oftentimes ob- 
tained before. 

"The devastation is not limited to Africa," ob- 
aerved the count. 

"Assuredly not," assented the lieutenant; adding, 
"and I confess I am almost in despair whether we 
shall ever ascertain its limits. To what quarter of 
Europe, if Europe still exists, do you propose that 
I should now direct your course?" 

"To Sicily, Italy, France!" ejaculated Servadac, 
eagerly, — "anywhere where we can learn the truth 
of what has befallen us." 

"How if we are the sole survivors?" said the 
count, gravely. 

Hector Servadac was silent; his own secret pre- 
sentiment so thoroughly coincided with the doubts 
expressed by the count, that he refrained from say- 
ing another word. 

The coast, without deviation, still tended towards 
the north. No alternative, therefore, remained than 
to take a westerly course and to attempt to reach 
the northern shores of the Mediterranean. On the 
16th day the Dobryna essayed to start upon her 
altered way, but it seemed as if the elements had 
conspired to obstruct her progress. A furious 
tempest arose; the wind beat dead in the direction 
of the coast, and the danger incurred by a vessel 
of a tonnage so light was necessarily very great. 



Lieutenant Procope was extremely uneasy. He 
took in all sail, struck his topmasts, and resolved to 
rely entirely on his engine. But the peril seemed 
only to increase. Enormous waves caught the 
schooner and carried her up to their crests, whence 
again she was plunged deep into the abysses that 
they left. The screw failed to keep its hold upon 
the water, but continually revolved with useless 
speed in the vacant air; and thus, although the 
steam was forced on to the extremest limit con- 
sistent with safety, the vessel held her way with 
the utmost difficulty, and recoiled before the hurri- 

Still, not a single resort for refuge did the in- 
hospitable shore present. Again and again the 
lieutenant asked himself what would become of him 
and his comrades, even if they should survive the 
peril of shipwreck, and gain a footing upon the cliff. 
What resources could they expect to find upon that 
scene of desolation? What hope could they enter- 
tain that any portion of the old continent still ex- 
isted beyond that dreary barrier? 

It was a trying time, but throughout it all the 
crew behaved with the greatest courage and com- 
posure; confident in the skill of their commander, 
and in the stability of their ship, they performed 
their duties with steadiness and unquestioning 
obedience. 

But neither skill, nor courage, nor obedience 
could avail; all was in vain, Despite the strain put 
upon her engine, the schooner, bare of canvas (for 
not even the smallest stay-sail could have withstood 
the violence of the storm), was drifting with ter- 
rific speed towards the menacing precipices, which 
were only a few short miles to leeward. Fully alive 
to the hopelessness of their situation, the crew 
were all on deck. 

"All over with us, sir !" said Procope to the count. 
"I have done everything that man could do; but 
our case is desperate. Nothing short of a miracle 
can save us now. Within an hour we must go to 
pieces upon yonder rocks." 

"Let us, then, commend ourselves to the provi- 
dence of Him to Whom nothing is impossible," re- 
plied the count, in a calm, clear voice that could be 
distinctly heard by all; and as he spoke, he rever- 
ently uncovered, an example in which he was fol- 
lowed by all the rest. 

The destruction of the vessel seeming thus in- 
evitable, Lieutenant Procope took the best measures 
he could to insure a few days' supply of food for 
any who might escape ashore. He ordered several 
cases of provisions and kegs of water to be brought 
on deck, and saw that they were securely lashed 
to some empty barrels, to make them float after the 
ship had gone down. 

Less and less grew the distance from the shore, 
but no creek, no inlet, could be discerned in the 
towering wall of cliff, which seemed about to topple 
over and involve them in annihilation. Except a 
change of wind, or, as Procope observed a superna- 
tural rifting of the rock, nothing could bring de- 
liverance now. But the wind did not veer, and in 
a few minutes more the schooner was hardly three 
cables' distance from the fatal land. All were 
aware that their last moment had arrived. Serva- 
dac and the count grasped each others' hands for a 
long farewell ; and, tossed by the tremendous waves, 
the schooner was on the very point of being hurled 



OFF ON A COMET 



27 



upon the cliff, when a ringing shout was heard. 
"Quick, boys, quiekl Hoist the jib, and right the 
helm I" 

Sudden and startling as the unexpected orders 
were, they were executed as if by magic. 

The lieutenant, who had shouted from the bow, 
rushed astern and took the helm, and before any- 
one had time to speculate upon the object of his 
maneuvers, he shouted again, "Look out! sharp! 
watch the sheets!" 

An involuntary cry broke forth from all on board. 
But it was no cry of terror. Right ahead was a 
narrow opening in the solid rock; it was hardly 
forty feet wide. Whether it was a passage or not, it 
mattered little; it was at least a refuge; and, driven 
by wind and wave, the Dobryna, tinder the dexterous 
guidance of the lieutenant, dashed in between its 
perpendicular walls. 

Had she not immured herself in a perpetual 
prison? 

CHAPTER XIII 
A ROYAL SALUTE 

"Then I take your bishop, major," said Colonel 
Murphy, as he made a move that he had taken since 
the previous evening to consider. 

"I was afraid you would," replied Major Oliphant, 
looking intently at the chess-board. 

Such was the way in which a long silence was 
broken on the morning of the 17th of February by 
the old calendar. 

Another day elapsed before another move was 
made. It was a protracted game; it had, in fact, 
already lasted some months — the players being so 
deliberate, and so fearful of taking a step without 
the most mature consideration, that even now they 
were only making the twentieth move. 

Both of them, moreover, were rigid disciples of 
the renowned Philidor, who pronounces that to play 
the pawns well is "the soul of chess" ; and, accord- 
ingly, not one pawn had been sacrificed without a 
most vigorous defense. 

The men who were thus beguiling their leisure 
were two officers in the British army — Colonel 
Heneage Finch Murphy and Major Sir John Temple 
Oliphant. Remarkably similar in personal appear- 
ance, they were hardly less so in personal character. 
Both of them were about forty years of age ; both 
of them were tall and fair, with bushy whiskers and 
mustaches; both of them were phlegmatic in tem- 
perament, and both much addicted to the wearing 
of their uniforms. They were proud of their na- 
tionality, and exhibited a manifest dislike, verging 
upon contempt, for everything foreign. Probably 
they would have felt no surprise if they had been 
told that Anglo-Saxons were fashioned out of some 
specific clay, the properties of which surpassed the 
investigation of chemical analysis. Without any 
intentional disparagement they might, in a certain 
way, be compared to two scarecrows which, though 
perfectly harmless in themselves, inspire some 
measure of respect, and are excellently adapted to 
protect the territory intrusted to their guardian- 
ship. 

English-like, the two officers, had made themselves 
thoroughly at home in the station abroad in which 
it had been their lot to be quartered. The faculty 
of colonization seems to be indigenous to the native 



character; once let an Englishman plant his na- 
tional standard on the surface of the moon, and it 
would not be long before a colony would be estab- 
lished around it. 

The officers had a servant, named Kirke, and a 
company of ten soldiers of the line. This party of 
thirteen men were apparently the sole survivors of 
an overwhelming catastrophe, which on the 1st of 
January had transformed an enormous rock, gar- 
risoned with well-nigh two thousand troops, into 
an insignificant island far out to sea. But although 
the transformation had been so marvelous, it can- 
not be said that either Colonel Murphy or Major 
Oliphant had made much demonstration of astonish- 
ment, 

"This is all very peculiar, Sir John," observed the 
colonel. 

"Yes, colonel; very peculiar," replied the major. 

"England will be sure to send for us," said one 
officer. 

"No doubt she will," answered the other. 

Accordingly, they came to the mutual resolution 
that they would "stick to their post." 

To say the truth, it would have been a difficult 
matter for the gallant officers to do otherwise; they 
had but one small boat; therefore, it was well that 
they made a virtue of necessity, and resigned them- 
selves to patient expectation of the British ship 
which, in due time, would bring relief. 

They had no fear of starvation. Their island was 
mined with subterranean stores, more than ample 
for thirteen men — nay, for thirteen Englishmen — 
for the next five years at least. Preserved meat, 
ale, brandy — all were in abundance; consequently, 
as the men expressed it, they were in this respect 
"all right." 

Of course, the physical changes that had taken 
place had attracted the notice both of officers and 
men. But the reversed position of east and west, 
the diminution of the force of gravity, the altered 
rotation of the earth, and her projection upon a 
new orbit, were all things that gave them little con- 
cern and no uneasiness; and when the colonel and 
the major had replaced the pieces on the board 
which had been disturbed by the convulsion, any 
surprise they might have felt at the chess-men los- 
ing some portion of their weight was quite for- 
gotten in the satisfaction of seeing them retain 
their equilibrium. 

One phenomenon, however, did not fail to make 
its due impression upon the men; this was the dim- 
inution in the length of day and night. Three days 
after the catastrophe, Corporal Pirn, on behalf of 
himself and his comrades, solicited a formal inter- 
view with the officers. The request having been 
granted, Pirn, with the nine soldiers, all punctili- 
ously wearing the regimental tunic of scarlet and 
trousers of invisible green, presented themselves 
at the door of the colonel's room, where he and his 
brother-officer were continuing their game. Raising 
his hand respectfully to his cap, which he wore 
poised jauntily over his right ear, and scarcely held 
on by the strap below his under lip, the corporal 
waited permission to speak. 

After a lingering survey of the chess-board, the 
colonel slowly lifted his eyes, and said with official 
dignity, "Well, men, what is it?" 

"First of all, sir," replied the corporal, "we want 
to speak to you about our pay, and then we wish 



28 



AMAZING STORIES 



to have a word with the major about our rations." 

"Say on, then," said Colonel Murphy. "What is 
it about your pay ?" 

"Just this, sir; as the days are only half as long 
as they were, we should like to know whether our 
pay is to be diminished in proportion." 

The colonel was taken somewhat aback, and did 
not reply immediately, though by some significant 
nods towards the major, he indicated that he 
thought the question very reasonable. After a few 
moments' reflection, he replied, "It must, I think, 
be allowed that your pay was calculated from sun- 
rise to sunrise; there was no specification of what 
the interval should be. Your pay will continue as 
before. England can afford it. 

A buzz of approval burst involuntarily from all 
the men, but military discipline and the respect 
due to their officers' kept them in cheek from any 
boisterous demonstration of their satisfaction. 

"And now, corporal, what is your business with 
me?" asked Major Oliphant. 

"We want to know whether, as the days are 
only six hours long, we are to have but two meals 
instead of four?" 

The officers looked at each other, and by their 
glances agreed that the corporal was a man of sound 
common sense. 

"Eccentricities of nature," said the major, "can- 
not interfere with military regulations. It is true 
that there will be but an interval of an hour and 
a half between them, but the rule stands good — four 
meals a day. England is too rich to grudge her 
soldiers any of her soldiers' due. Yes; four meals 
a day." 

"Hurrah!" shouted the soldiers, unable this time 
to keep their delight within the bounds of military 
decorum; and, turning to the right-about, they 
marched away, leaving the officers to renew the all- 
absorbing game. 

However confident everyone upon the island might 
profess to be that succor would be sent them from 
their native land — for Britain never abandons any 
of her sons— it could not be disguised that that 
succor was somewhat tardy in making its appear- 
ance. Many and various were the conjectures to 
account for the delay. Perhaps England was en- 
grossed with domestic matters, or perhaps she was 
absorbed in diplomatic difficulties; or perchance, 
more likely than all, Northern Europe had received 
no tidings of the convulsion that had shattered the 
south. The whole party throve remarkably well up- 
on the liberal provisions of the commissariat de- 
partment, and if the officers failed to show the same 
tendency to embonpoint which was fast becoming 
characteristic of the men, it was only because they 
deemed it due to their rank to curtail any indul- 
gences which might compromise the fit of their uni- 
form. 

On the whole, time passed indifferently well. An 
Englishman rarely suffers from ennui, and then 
only in his own country, when required to conform 
to what he calls "the humbug of society"; and the 
two officers, with their similar tastes, ideas, and 
dispositions, got on together admirably. It is not 
to be questioned that they were deeply affected by a 
sense of regret for their lost comrades, and as- 
tounded beyond measure at finding themselves the 
sole survivors of a garrison of 1,895 men, but with 
true British pluck and self-control, they had done 



nothing more than draw up a report that 1883 
names were missing from the muster-roll. 

The island itself, the sole surviving fragment of 
an enormous pile of rock that had reared itself some 
1,600 feet above the sea, was not, strictly speaking, 
the only land that was visible; for about twelve 
miles to the south there was another island, ap- 
parently the very counterpart of what was now oc- 
cupied by the Englishmen. It was only natural 
that this should awaken some interest even in the 
most imperturbable minds, and there was no doubt 
that the two officers, during one of the rare inter- 
vals when they were not absorbed in their game, had 
decided that it would be desirable at least to ascer- 
tain whether the island was deserted, or whether 
it might not be occupied by some others, like them- 
selves, survivors from the general catastrophe. Cer- 
tain it is that one morning, when the weather was 
bright and calm, they had embarked alone in the 
little boat, and been absent for seven or eight hours. 
Not even to Corporal Pim did they communicate the 
object of their excursion, nor say one syllable as to 
its result, and it could only be inferred from their 
manner that they were quite satisfied with what 
they had seen; and very shortly afterwards Major 
Oliphant was observed to draw up a lengthy docu- 
ment, which was no sooner finished than it was 
.formally signed and sealed with the seal of the 33rd 
Regiment. It was directed: 

To the First Lord of the Admiralty, 
London, 
and kept in readiness for transmission by the first 
ship that should hail in sight. But time elapsed, 
and here was the 18th of February without an op- 
portunity having been afforded for any communica- 
tion with the British Government. 

At breakfast that morning, the colonel observed 
to the major that he was under the most decided 
impression that the 18th of February was a royal 
anniversary; and he went on to say that, although 
he had received no definite instructions on the sub- 
ject, he did not think that the peculiar circum- 
stances under which they found themselves should 
prevent them from giving the day its due military 

The major quite concurred; and it was mutually 
agreed that the occasion must be honored by a 
bumper of port, and by a royal salute. Corporal 
Pim must be sent for. The corporal soon made his 
appearance, smacking his lips, having, by a ready 
intuition, found a pretext for a double morning ra- 
tion of spirits. 

"The 18th 'of February, you know, Pim," said the 
colonel; "we must have a salute of twenty-one 
guns." 

"Very good," replied Pim, a man of few words. 

"And take care that your fellows don't get their 
arms and legs blown off," added the officer. 

"Very good, sir," said the corporal; and he made 
his salute and withdrew. 

Of all the bombs, howitzers, and various species 
of artillery with which the fortress had been crowd- 
ed, one solitary piece remained. This was a cum- 
brous muzzle-loader of 9-inch caliber, and, in default 
of the smaller ordnance generally employed for the 
purpose, had to be brought into requisition for 
the royal salute. 

A sufficient number of charges having been pro- 
vided, the corporal brought his men to the redact. 



OFF ON A COMET 



29 



whence the gun's mouth projected over a sloping 
embrasure. The two officers, in cocked hats and 
full staff uniform, attended to take charge of the 
proceedings. The gun was maneuvered in strict 
accordance with the rules of "The Artilleryman's 
Manual," and the firing commenced. 

Not unmindful of the warning he had received, 
the corporal was most careful between each dis- 
charge to see that every vestige of fire was extin- 
guished, so as to prevent an untimely explosion 
while the men were reloading; and accidents, such 
as so frequently mar public rejoicings, were all 
happily avoided. 

Much to the chagrin of both Colonel Murphy and 
Major Oliphant, the effect of the salute fell alto- 
gether short of their anticipations. The weight of 
the atmosphere was so reduced that there was com- 
paratively little resistance to the explosive force of 
the gases, liberated at the cannon's mouth, and 
there was consequently none of the reverberation, 
like rolling thunder, that ordinarily follows the dis- 
charge of heavy artillery. 

Twenty times had the gun been fired, and it was 
on the point of being loaded for the last time, when 
the colonel laid his hand upon the arm of the man 
who had the ramrod. "Stop!" he said; "we will 
have a ball this time. Let us put the range of the 
piece to the test." 

"A good idea!" replied the major. "Corporal, 
you hear the orders." 

In quick time an artillery-wagon was on the spot, 
and the men lifted out a full-sized shot, weighing 
200 lbs., which, under ordinary circumstances, the 
cannon would carry about four miles. It was pro- 
posed, by means of telescopes, to note the place 
where the ball first touched the water, and thus 
to obtain an approximation sufficiently accurate as 
to the true range. 

Having been duly charged with powder and ball, 
the gun was raised to an angle of something under 
45°, so as to allow proper development to the curve 
that the projectile would make, and, at a signal from 
the major, the light was applied to the priming. 

"Heavens!" "By all that's good!" exclaimed both 
officers in one breath, as, standing open-mouthed, 
they hardly knew whether they were to believe the 
evidence of their own senses. "Is it possible?" 

The diminution of the force of attraction at the 
earth's surface was so considerable that the ball had 
sped beyond the horizon. 

"Incredible!" ejaculated the colonel. 

"Incredible!" echoed the major. 

"Six miles at least!" observed the one. 

"Ay, more than that!" replied the other. 

Awhile, they gazed at the sea and at each other 
in mute amazement. But in the midst of their per- 
plexity, what sound was that which startled them? 
Was it mere fancy? Was it the reverberation of 
the cannon still booming in their ears? Or was it 
not truly the report of another and a distant gun 
in answer to their own? Attentively and eagerly 
they listened. Twice, thrice did the sound repeat 
itself. It was quite distinct. There could be no 
mistake. 

"I told you so," cried the colonel, triumphantly. 
"I knew our country would not forsake us; it is 
an English ship, no doubt." 

In half an hour two masts were visible above the 
horizon. "See! Was I not right? Our country 



was sure to send to our relief. Here is the ship." 

"Yes," replied the major; "she responded to our 
gun." 

"It is to be hoped," muttered the corporal, "that 
our ball has done her no damage." 

Before long the hull was full in sight. A long 
trail of smoke betokened her to be a steamer; and 
very soon, by the aid of the glass, it could be as- 
certained that she was a schooner-yacht, and mak- 
ing straight for the island. A flag at her mast- 
head fluttered in the breeze, and towards this the 
two officers, with the keenest attention, respectively 
adjusted their glasses. 

Simultaneously the two telescopes were lowered. 
The colonel and the major stared at each other in 
blank astonishment. "Russian!" they gasped. 

And true it wa3 that the flag that floated at the 
head of yonder mast was the blue cross of Russia. 

CHAPTER XIV 

SENSITIVE NATIONALITY 

When the schooner had approached the island, 
the Englishmen were able to make out the name 
"Dobryna" painted on the stern. A sinuous 
irregularity of the coast had formed a kind of cove, 
which, though hardly spacious enough for a few 
fishing-smacks, would afford the yacht a temporary 
anchorage, so long as the wind did not blow violently 
from either west or south. Into this cove the Dob- 
ryna was duly signaled, and as soon as she was 
safely moored, she lowered her four-oar, and Count 
Timaseheff and Captain Ser.vadac made their way 
at once to land. 

Colonel Heneage Finch Murphy and Major Sir 
John Temple Oliphant stood, grave and prim, form- 
ally awaiting the arrival of their visitors. Captain 
Servadac, with the uncontrolled vivacity natural to 
a Frenchman, was the first to speak. 

"A joyful sight, gentlemen!" he exclaimed. "It 
will give us unbounded pleasure to shake hands 
again with some of our fellow-creature3. You, no 
doubt have escaped the same disaster as ourselves." 

But the English officers, neither by word nor 
gesture, made the slightest acknowledgment of this 
familiar greeting. 

"What news can you give us of France, England, 
or Russia?" continued Servadac, perfectly uncons- 
cious of the stolid rigidity with which his advances 
were received. "We are anxious to hear anything 
you can tell us. Have you had communications with 
Europe ? Have you — " 

"To whom have we the honor of speaking?" at 
last interposed Colonel Murphy, in the coldest and 
most measured tone, and drawing himself up to his 
full height. 

"Ah! how stupid! I forgot," said Servadac, with 
the slightest possible shrug of the shoulders; "we 
have not been introduced." 

Then, with a wave of his hand towards his com- 
panion, who meanwhile had exhibited a reserve 
hardly less than that of the British officers, he said: 

"Allow me to introduce you to Count Wassili 
Timaseheff." 

"Major Sir John Temple Oliphant," replied the 
colonel. 

The Russian and the Englishman mutually ex- 
changed the stiffest of bows. 



30 



AMAZING STORIES 



"I have the pleasure of introducing Captain Ser- 
vadac," said the count in hia turn. 

"And this is Colonel Heneage Finch Murphy," 
was the major'3 grave rejoinder. 

More bows were interchanged and the ceremony 
hrought to its due conclusion. It need hardly be 
aaid that the conversation had been carried on in 
French, a language which is generally known both 
by Russians and Englishmen — a circumstance that 
is probably in some measure to be accounted for by 
the refusal of Frenchmen to learn either Russian or 
English. 

The formal preliminaries of etiquette being thus 
complete, there was no longer any obstacle to a freer 
intercourse. The colonel, signing to his guests to 
follow, led the way to the apartment occupied jointly 
by himself and the major, which, although only a 
kind of casemate hollowed in the rock, nevertheless 
wore a general air of comfort. Major Oliphant ac- 
companied them, and all four having taken their 
seats, the conversation started. 

Irritated and disgusted at all the cold formalities. 
Hector Servadac resolved to leave all the talking 
to the count; and he, quite aware that the English- 
men would adhere to the fiction that they could be 
supposed to know nothing that had transpired previ- 
ous to the introduction, felt himself obligated to re- 
capitulate matters from the very beginning. 

"You must be aware, gentlemen," began the 
count, "that a most singular catastrophe occurred 
on the 1st of January last. Its cause, its limits we 
have utterly failed to discover, but from the ap- 
pearance of the island on which we find you here, 
you have evidently experienced its devastating con- 
sequences." 

The Englishmen, in silence, bowed assent. 

"Captain Servadac, who accompanies me," con- 
tinued the count, "has been most severely tried by 
the disaster. Engaged as he was in an important 
mission as a staff -officer in Algeria " 

"A French colony, I believe," interposed Major 
Oliphant, half shutting his eyes with an expression 
of supreme indifference. 

Servadac was on the point of making some cutting 
retort, but Count Timascheff, without allowing the 
interruption to be noticed, calmly continued his nar- 
rative : 

"It was near the mouth of the Shelif that a por- 
tion of Africa, on that eventful night, was trans- 
formed into an island which alone survived ; the rest 
of the vast continent disappeared as completely as 
if it had never been." 

The announcement seemed by no means startling 
to the phlegmatic colonel. 

"Indeed!" was all he said. 

"And where were you?" asked Major Oliphant. 

"I was out at sea, cruising in my yacht hard by; 
and I look upon it as a miracle, and nothing less, 
that I and my crew escaped with our lives." 

"I congratulate you on your luck," replied the 
major. 

The count resumed : "It was about a month after 
the great disruption that I was sailing — my engine 
having sustained some damage in the shock — along 
the Algerian coast, and had the pleasure of meeting 
with my previous acquaintance, Captain Servadac, 
who was resident upon the island with his orderly, 
Ben Zoof." 

"Ben who?" inquired the major. 



"Zoof! Ben Zoof!" ejaculated Servadac, who 
could scarcely shout loud enough to relieve his pent- 
up feelings. 

Ignoring this ebulition of the captain's spleen, 
the count went on to say: "Captain Servadac was 
naturally most anxious to get what news he could. 
Accordingly, he left his servant on the island in 
charge of his horses, and came on board the Dob- 
ryna with me. We were quite at a loss to know 
where we should steer, but decided to direct our 
course to what previously had been the east, in 
order that we might, if possible, discover the col- 
ony of Algeria; but of Algeria not a trace re- 
mained." 

The colonel curled his lip, insinuating only too 
plainly that to him it was by no means surprising 
that a French colony should be wanting in the eh> 
ment of stability. Servadac observed the super- 
cilious look, and half rose to his feet, but, smother- 
ing hi3 resentment, took his seat again without 
speaking. 

"The devastation, gentlemen," said the count, 
who persistently refused to recognize the French- 
man's irritation, "everywhere was terrible and com- 
plete. Not only was Algeria lost, but there was no 
trace of Tunis, except one solitary rock which was 
crowned by an ancient tomb of one of the kings 
of France " 

"Louis the Ninth, I presume," observed the 
colonel. 

"Saint Louis," blurted out Servadac, savagely. 

Colonel Murphy slightly smiled. 

Proof against all interruption, Count Timascheff, 
as if he had not heard it, went on without pausing. 
He related how the schooner had pushed her way 
onwards to the pnuth, and had reached the Gulf of 
Cabes ; and how she had ascertained for certain that 
the Sahara Sea had no longer an existence. 

The smile of disdain again crossed the colonel's 
face; he could not conceal h:s opinion that such a 
destiny for the work nf a Frenchman could be no 
matter of surprise. 

"Our next discovery," continued the count, "was 
that a new coast had been upheaved right along in 
front of the coast of Tripoli, the geological forma- 
tion of which was altogether strange, and which 
extended to the north a3 far as the proper place of 
Malta." 

"And Malta," cried Servadac, unable to control 
himself any longer; "Malta — town, forts, soldiers, 
governor, and all — has vanished just like Algeria," 

For a moment a cloud rested upon the colonel's 
brow, only to give place to an expression of de- 
cided incredulity. 

"The statement seems highly incredible," he said. 

"Incredible? repeated Servadac. "Why is it that 
you doubt my word?" 

The captain's rising wrath did not prevent the 
colonel from replying coolly, "Because Malta belongs 
to England." 

"I can't help that," answered Servadac, sharply; 
"it has gone just as utterly as if it had belonged 
to China." 

Colonel Murphy turned deliberately away from 
Servadac, and appealed to the count: "Do you not 
think you may have made some error, count, in 
reckoning the bearings of your yacht?" 

"No, colonel, I am quite certain of my reckonings ; 
and not only can I testify that Malta has disap- 



OFF ON A COMET 



31 



peared, but I can affirm that a large section of the 
Mediterranean has been closed in by a new contin- 
ent. After the most anxious investigation, we 
could discover only one narrow opening in all the 
coast, and it is by following that little channel that 
we have made our way hither. England, I fear, 
has suffered grievously by the late catastrophe. 
Not only has Malta been entirely lost, but of the 
Ionian Islands that were under England's protec- 
tion, there seems to be but little left." 

"Ay, you may depend upon it," said Servadac, 
breaking in upon the conversation petulantly, 
"your grand resident Lord High Commissioner has 
not much to congratulate himself about in the con- 
dition of Corfu." 

The Englishmen were mystified. 

"Corfu, did you say?" asked Major Oliphant 

"Yes, Corfu; I said Corfu," replied Servadac, 
with a sort of malicious triumph. 

The officers were speechless with astonishment. 

The silence of bewilderment was broken at length 
by Count Timascheff making inquiry whether 
nothing had been heard from England, either by 
telegraph or by any passing ship. 

"No," said the colonel; "not a ship has passed; 
and the cable is broken." 

"But do not the Italian telegraphs assist you?" 
continued the count. 

"Italian ! I do not comprehend you. You must 
mean the Spanish, surely." 

"How?" demanded Timascheff. 

"Confound it!" cried the impatient Servadac. 
"What matters whether it be Spanish or Italian? 
Tell us, have you had no communication at all from 
Europe? — no news of any sort from London?" 

"Hitherto, none whatever," replied the colonel; 
adding with a stately emphasis, "but we shall be 
sure to have tidings from England before long." 

"Whether England is still in existence or not, I 
suppose," said Servadac, in a tone of irony. 

The Englishmen started simultaneously to their 
feet. 

"England in existence?" the colonel cried. "Eng- 
land ! Ten times more probable that France " 

"France!" shouted Servadac in a passion. "France 
is not an island that can be submerged; France 
is an integral portion of a solid continent. France, 
at least, is safe," 

A scene appeared inevitable, and Count Tima- 
echeff's efforts to conciliate the excited parties were 
of small avail. 

"You are at home here," said Servadac, with as 
much calmness as he could command; "it will be 
advisable, I think, for this discussion to be carried 
on in the open air." And hurriedly he left the room. 
Followed immediately by the others, he led the way 
to a level piece of ground, which he considered he 
might fairly claim as neutral territory. 

"Now, gentlemen," he began haughtily, "permit 
me to represent that, in spite of any loss France 
may have sustained in the fate of Algeria, Franee 
is ready to answer any provocation that affects her 
honor. Here I am the representative of my country, 
and here, on neutral ground " 

"Neutral ground?" objected Colonel Murphy; "I 
beg your pardon. This, Captain Servadac, is Eng- 
lish territory. Do you not see the English flag?" 
and, as he spoke, he pointed with national pride to 



the British standard floating over the top of the 
island. 

"Pshaw!" cried Servadac, with a contemptuous 
sneer; "that flag, you know, has been hoisted but 
a few short weeks." 

"That flag has floated where it is for ages," as- 
serted the colonel. 

"An imposture!" shouted Servadac, as he 
stamped with rage. 

Recovering his composure in a degree, he con- 
tinued: 

"Can you suppose that I am not aware that this 
island on which we find you is what remains of the 
Ionian representative republic, over which you Eng- 
lish exercise the right of protection, but have no 
claim of government?" 

The colonel and the major looked at each other 
in amazement. 

Although Count Timascheff secretly sympathized 
with Servadac he had carefully refrained from tak- 
ing part in the dispute; but he was on the point of 
interfering, when the colonel, in a greatly subdued 
tone, begged to be allowed to speak. 

"I begin to apprehend," he said, "that ycm must 
be laboring under some strange mistake. There is 
no room for questioning that the territory here is 
England's — England's by right of conquest; ceded 
to England by the Treaty of Utrecht. Three times, 
indeed— in 1727, 1779, and 1792— France and Spain 
have disputed our title, but always to no purpose. 
You are, I assure you, at the present moment, as 
much on English soil as if you were in London, in 
the middle of Trafalgar Square." 

It was now the turn of the captain and the count 
to look surprised. "Are we not, then, in Corfu?" 
they asked. 

"You are at Gibraltar," replied the colonel. 

Gibraltar ! The word fell like a thunderclap up- 
on their ears. Gibraltar ! the western extremity of 
the Mediterranean! Why, had they not been sail- 
ing persistently to the east? Could they be wrong 
in imagining that they had reached the Ionian Is- 
lands? What new mystery was this? 

Count Timascheff was about to proceed with a 
more rigorous investigation, when the attention of 
all was arrested by a loud outcry. Turning round, 
they saw that the crew of the Dobryna was in hot 
dispute with the English soldiers. A general alter- 
cation had arisen from a disagreement between the 
sailor Panofka and Corporal Pirn. It had trans- 
pired that the cannon-ball fired in experiment from 
the island had not only damaged one of the spars 
of the schooner, but had broken Panofka's pipe, 
and, moreover, had just grazed his nose, which, for 
a Russian's, was unusually long. The discussion 
over this mishap led to mutual recriminations, till 
the sailors had almost come to blows with the gar- 
rison. 

Servadac was just in the mood to take Panofka's 
part, which drew fom Major Oliphant the remark 
that England could not be held responsible for any 
accidental injury done by her cannon, and if the 
Russian's long nose came in the way of the ball, the 
Russian must submit to the mischance. 

This was too much for Count Timascheff, and 
having poured out a torrent of angry invective 
against the English officers,.he ordered his crew to 
embark immediately. 



32 



AMAZING STORIES 



"We shall meet again," said Servadac, as they 
pushed off from shore. 

"Whenever you please," was the cool reply. 

The geographical mystery haunted the minds of 
both the count and the captain, and they felt they 
could never rest till they had ascertained what had 
become of their respective countries. They were 
glad to be on board again, that they might resume 
their voyage of investigation, and in two hours 
were out of sight of the sole remaining fragment 
of Gibraltar. 

CHAPTER XV 

AN ENIGMA FROM THE SEA 

Lieutenant Procope had been left on board in 
charge of the Dobryna, and on resuming the voyage 
it was a task of some difficulty to make him under- 
stand the fact that had just come to light. Some 
hours were spent in discussion and in attempting 
to penetrate the mysteries of the situation. 

There were certain things of which they were 
perfectly certain. They could be under no misappre- 
hension as to the distance they had positively sailed 
from Gourbi Island towards the east before their 
further progress was arrested by the unknown 
shore; as nearly as possible that was fifteen de- 
grees; the length of the narrow strait by which 
they had made their way across that land to regain 
the open sea was about three miles and a half; 
thence onward to the island, which they had been 
assured, on evidence that they could not disbelieve, 
to be upon the site of Gibraltar, was four degrees ; 
while from Gibraltar to Gourbi Island was seven 
degrees or but little more. What was it altogether? 
Was it not less than thirty degrees? In that lati- 
tude, the degree of longitude represents eight and 
forty miles. What, then, did it all amount to? In- 
dubitably, to less than 1,400 miles. So brief a voyage 
would bring the Dobryna once again to her starting- 
point, or, in other words, would enable her to com- 
plete the circumnavigation of the globe. How 
changed the condition of things! Previously, to 
sail from Malta to Gibraltar by an eastward course 
would have involved the passage of the Suez Canal, 
the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, the At- 
lantic; but what had happened now? Why, Gibraltar 
had been reached as if it had been just at Corfu, 
and some three hundred and thirty degrees of the 
earth's circuit had vanished utterly. 

After allowing for a certain margin of miscalcu- 
lation, the main fact remained undeniable; and the 
necessary inference that Lieutenant Procope drew 
from the round of the earth being completed in 
1,400 miles, was that the earth's diameter had been 
reduced by about fifteen sixteenths of its length. 

"If that be so," observed the count, "it accounts 
for some of the strange phenomena we witness. If 
our world has become so insignificant a spheroid, 
not only has its gravity diminished, but its rotary 
speed has been accelerated; and this affords an ade- 
quate explanation of our days and nights being 
thus curtailed. But how about the new orbit in 
which we are moving?" 

He paused and pondered, and then looked at Pro- 
cope as though awaiting from him some further 
elucidation of the difficulty. The lieutenant hesi- 
tated. When, in a few moments, he began to speak. 



Servadac smiled intelligently, anticipating the 
answer he was about to hear. 

"My conjecture is," said Procope, "that a frag- 
ment of considerable magnitude has been detached 
from the earth; that it has carried with it an en- 
velope of the earth's atmosphere, and that it is 
now traveling through the solar system in an orbit 
that does not correspond at all with the proper orbit 
of the earth." 

The hypothesis was plausible; but what a multi- 
tude of bewildering speculations it entailed! If, in 
truth, a certain mass had been broken off from the 
terrestrial sphere, whither would it wend its way? 
What would be the measure of the eccentricity of its 
path? What would be its period round the sun? 
Might it not, like a comet, be carried away into the 
vast infinity of space? or, on the other hand, might 
it not be attracted to the great central source of 
light and heat, and be absorbed in it? Did its orbit 
correspond with the plane of the ecliptic? and was 
there no chance of its ever uniting again with the 
globe, from which it had been torn off by so sudden 
and violent a disruption. 

A thoughtful silence fell upon them all, which 
Servadac was the first to break. "Lieutenant," he 
said, "your explanation is ingenious, and accounts 
for many appearances ; but it seems to me that in 
one point it fails." 

"How so?" replied Procope. "To my mind the 
theory meets all objections." 

"I think not," Servadac answered. "In one point, 
at least, it appears to me to break down completely." 

"What is that?" asked the lieutenant. 

"Stop a moment," said the captain. "Let us see 
that we understand each other right. Unless I 
mistake you, your hypothesis is that a fragment 
of the earth, comprising the Mediterranean and its 
shores from Gibraltar to Malta, has been developed 
into a new asteroid, which is started on an inde- 
pendent orbit in the solar regions. Is not that your 
meaning?" 

"Precisely so," the lieutenant acquiesced. 

"Well, then," continued Servadac, "it seems to me 
to be at fault in this respect: it fails, and fails com- 
pletely, to account for the geological character of 
the land that we have found now encompassing this 
sea. Why, if the new land is a fragment of the old 
— why does it not retain its old formation? What 
has become of the granite and the calcareous de- 
posits? How is it that these should all be changed 
into a mineral concrete with which we have no 
acquaintance?" 

No doubt, it was a serious objection; for, how- 
ever likely it might be that a mass of the earth on 
being detached would be eccentric in its movements, 
there was no probable reason to be alleged why the 
material of its substance should undergo so com- 
plete a change. There was nothing to account for 
the fertile shores, rich in vegetation, being trans- 
formed into rocks arid and barren beyond precedent. 

The lieutenant felt the difficulty, and owned him- 
self unprepared to give at once an adequate solu- 
tion; nevertheless, he declined to renounce his 
theory. He asserted that the arguments in favor 
of it carried conviction to his mind, and that he 
entertained no doubt but that, in the course of time, 
all apparently antagonistic circumstances would be 
explained so as to become consistent with the view 
he took. He was careful, however, to make it un- 



OFF ON A COMET 



33 



derstood that with respect to the original cause of 
the disruption he had no theory to offer; and al- 
though he knew what expansion might be the result 
of subterranean forces, he did not venture to say 
that he considered it sufficient to produce so tre- 
mendous an effect. The origin of the catastrophe 
was a problem still to be solved. 

"Ah! well," said Servadac, "I don't know that it 
matters much where our new little planet comes 
from, or what it is made of, if only it carries France 
along with it." 

"And Russia," added the count. 

"And Russia, of course," said Servadac, with a 
polite bow. 

There was, however, not much room for this 
sanguine expectation, for if a new asteroid had thus 
been brought into existence, it must be a sphere of 
extremely limited dimensions, and there could be 
little chance that it embraced more than the merest 
fraction of either France or Russia. As to Eng- 
land, the total cessation of all telegraphic communi- 
cation between her shores and Gibraltar was a vir- 
tual proof that England was beyond its compass. 

And what was the true measurement of the new 
little world? At Gourbi Island the days and nights 
were of equal length, and this seemed to indicate 
that it was situated on the equator; hence the dis- 
tance by which the two poles stood apart would be 
half what had been reckoned would be the distance 
completed by the Dobryna in her circuit. That dis- 
tance had been already estimated to be something 
under 1,400 miles, so that the Arctic Pole of their 
recently fashioned world must be about 350 miles 
to the north, and the Antarctic about 350 miles 
to the south of the island. Compare these calcula- 
tions with the map, and it is at once apparent that 
the northernmost limit barely touched the coast of 
Provence, while the southernmost reached to about 
lat. 29° N., and fell in the heart of the desert. The 
practical test of these conclusions would be made 
by future investigation, but meanwhile the fact 
appeared very much to strengthen the presumption 
that, if Lieutenant Procope had not arrived at the 
whole truth, he had made a considerable advance 
towards it. 

The weather, ever since the storm that had driven 
the Dobryna into the creek, had been magnificent. 
The wind continued favorable, and now under both 
steam and canvas, she made a rapid progress to- 
wards the north, a direction in which she was free 
to go in consequence of the total disappearance of 
the Spanish coast, from Gibraltar right away to 
Alicante. Malaga, Alraeria, Cape Gata, Cartagena. 
Cape Palos— all were gone. The sea was rolling 
over the southern extent of the peninsula, so that 
the yacht advanced to the latitude of Seville before 
it sighted any land at a!!, and then, not shores such 
as the shores of Andalusia, but a bluff and precipi- 
tous cliff, in its geological features resembling 
exactly the stern and barren rock that she had 
coasted beyond the site of Malta. Here the sea 
made a decided indentation on the coast; it ran 
up in an acute-angled triangle till its apex coincided, 
with the very spot upon which Madrid had stood. 
But as hitherto the sea had encroached upon the 
land, the land in its turn now encroached upon the 
sea; for a frowning headland stood out far into 
the basin of the Mediterranean, and formed a pro- 
montory stretching out beyond the proper places 



of the Balearic Isles. Curiosity was all alive. There 
was the intensest interest awakened to determine 
whether any vestige could be traced of Majorca, 
Minorca, or any of the group, and it was during a 
deviation from the direct course for the purpose of 
a more thorough, scrutiny, that one of the sailors 
raised a thrill of general excitement by shouting, 
"A bottle in the sea!" 

Here, then, at length was a communication from 
the outer world. Surely now they would And a docu- 
ment which would throw some light upon all the 
mysteries that had happened? Had not the day 
now dawned that should set their speculations all 
at rest? 

It was the morning of the 21st of February. The 
count, the captain, the lieutenant, everybody hurried 
to the forecastle; the schooner was dexterously put 
about, and all was eager impatience until the sup- 
posed bottle was hauled on deck. 

It was not, however, a bottle; it proved to be a 
round leather telescope-case, about a foot long, and 
the first thing to do before investigating its con- 
tents was to make a careful examination of its ex- 
terior. The lid was fastened on by wax, and so 
securely that it would take a long immersion before 
any water could penetrate; there was no maker's 
name to be deciphered; but impressed very plainly 
with a seal on the wax were the two initials "P. B." 

When the scrutiny of the outside was finished, the 
wax was removed and the cover opened, and the 
lieutenant drew out a slip of ruled paper, evidently 
torn from a common note-book. The paper had an 
inscription written in four lines, which were re- 
markable for the profusion of notes of admiration 
and interrogation with which they were inter- 
spersed : 
"Gallia??? 
Ab sole, au 15 fev. 59,000,000 I. ! 
Cheminparcourude jauv. a fev. 82,000,000 1, ! ! 
Va bene! AU right.'! Parfait!!! 

There was a general sigh of disappointment. 
They turned the paper over and over, and handed 
it from one to another. "What does it all mean?" 
exclaimed the count. 

"Something mysterious here!" said Servadac. 
"But yet," he continued, after a pause, "one thing 
is tolerably certain: on the 15th, six days ago, 
someone was alive to write it." 

"Yes; I presume there is no reason to doubt the 
accuracy of the date," assented the count. 

To this strange conglomeration of French, Eng- 
lish, Italian, and Latin, there was no signature at- 
tached; nor was there anything to give a clue as 
to the locality in which it had been committed to 
the waves. A telescope-case would probably be the 
property of some one on board a ship; and the 
figures obviously referred to the astronomical won- 
ders that had been experienced. 

To these general observations Captain Servadac 
objected that he thought it unlikely that any one on 
board a ship would use a telescope-case for this pur- 
pose, but would be sure to use a bottle as being more 
secure; and, accordingly, he should rather be in- 
clined to believe that the message had been set afloat 
by some savant left alone, perchance, upon some 
isolated coast. 

"But, however interesting it might be," observed 
the count, "to know the author of the lines, to us 



34 



AMAZING STORIES 



it is of far greater moment to ascertain their 
meaning." 

And taking up the paper again, he said, "Perhaps 
we might analyze it word by word, and from its 
detached parts gather some clue to its sense as a 
whole." 

"What can be the meaning of all that cluster of 
interrogations after Gallia?" asked Servadac. 

Lieutenant Procope, who had hitherto not spoken, 
now broke his silence by saying, "I beg, gentlemen, 
to submit my opinion that this document goes very 
far to confirm my hypothesis that a fragment of 
the earth has been precipitated into space." 

Captain Servadac hesitated, and then replied, 
"Even if it does, I do not see how it accounts in 
the least for the geological character of the new 
asteroid." 

"But will you allow me for one minute to take my 
supposition for granted?" said Procope. "If a new 
little planet has been formed, as I imagine, by disin- 
tegration from the old, I should conjecture that 
Gallia is the name assigned to it by the writer of 
this paper. The very notes of interrogation are 
significant that he was in doubt what he should 
write." 

"You would presume that he was a Frenchman?" 
asked the count. 
- "I should think so," replied the lieutenant. 

"Not much doubt about that," said Servadac; "it 
is all in French, except a few scattered words of 
English, Latin, and Italian, inserted to attract 
attention. He could not tell into whose hands the 
message would fall first." 

"Well, then," said Count Timascheff, "we seem 
to have found a name for the new world we occupy." 

"But what I was going especially to observe," 
continued the lieutenant, "is that the distance, 
59,000,000 leagues, represents precisely the distance 
we ourselves were from the sun on the 15th. It was 
on that day we crossed the orbit of Mars." 

"Yes, true," assented the others. 

"And the next line," said the lieutenant, after 
reading it aloud, "apparently registers the distance 
traversed by Gallia, the new little planet, in her 
own orbit. Her speed, of course, we know by Kep- 
ler's laws, would vary according to her distance 
from the sun, and if she were— as I conjecture from 
the temperature at that date — on the 15th of Jan- 
uary, at her perihelion, she would be traveling twice 
as fast as the earth, which moves at the rate of 
between 50,000 and 60,000 miles an hoar." 

"You think, then," said Servadac, v. i : Vi a smile, 
"you have determined the perihelion of our orbit; 
but how about the aphelion? Can you form a judg- 
ment as to what distance we are likely to be car- 
ried?" 

"You are asking too much," remonstrated the 
count. 

"I confess," said the lieutenant, "that just at 
present I am not able to clear away the uncertainty 
of the future; but I feel confident that by careful 
observation at various points we shall arrive at con- 
clusions which not only will determine our path, 
but perhaps may ciear up the mystery about our 
geological structure." 

"Allow me to ask," said Count Timascheff, 
"whether such a new asteriod would not be subject 
to ordinary mechanical laws, and whether, once 



started, it would not have an orbit that must be 
immutable?" 

"Decidedly it would, so long as it was undisturbed 
by the attraction of some considerable body; but 
we must recollect that, compared to the great 
planets, Gallia must be almost infinitesimal ly small, 
and so might be attracted by a force that is irre- 
si stable." 

"Altogether, then," said Servadac, "we seem to 
have settled it to our entire satisfaction that we 
must be the population of a young iittle world called 
Gallia. Perhaps some day we may have the honor 
of being registered among the minor planets." 

"No chance of that," quickly rejoined Lieutenant 
Procope. "Those minor planets all are known to 
rotate in a narrow zone between the orbits of Mars 
and Jupiter; in their perihelia they cannot ap- 
proximate the sun as we have done; we shall not 
be classed with them." 

"Our lack of instruments," said the count, "is 
much to be deplored; it baffles our investigations in 
every way." 

"Ah, nevermind! Keep up your courage, count!" 
said Servadac, cheerily. 

And Lieutenant Procope renewed his assurances 
that he entertained good hopes that every perplexity 
would soon be solved. 

"I suppose," remarked the count, "that we cannot 
attribute much importance to the last line: 
Va bene All right!! Parfait!!! 

The captain answered, "At least, it shows that 
whoever wrote it had no murmuring or complaint 
to make, but was quite content with the new order 
of things." 

CHAPTER XVI 
THE RESIDUUM OP A CONTINENT 

Almost unconsciously, the voyagers in the Dob- 
ryna. fell into the habit of using Gallia as the name 
of the new world in which they became aware they 
must be making an extraordinary excursion through 
the realms of space. Nothing, however, was al- 
lowed to divert them from their ostensible object 
of making a survey of -the coast of the Mediter- 
ranean, and accordingly they persevered in follow- 
ing that singular boundary which had revealed it- 
self to their extreme astonishment. 

Having rounded the great promontory that had 
barred her farther progress to the north, the 
schooner skirted its upper edge. A few more lea- 
gues and they ought to be abreast of the shores of 
France. Yes, of France. 

But who shall describe the feelings of Hector 
Servadac when, instead of the charming outline of 
his native land, he beheld nothing but a solid bound- 
ary of savage rock? Who shall paint the look of 
consternation with which he gazed upon the stony 
rampart — rising perpendicularly for a thousand 
feet— that had replaced the shores of the smiling 
south? Who shall reveal the burning anxiety with 
which he throbbed to see beyond that cruel wall? 

But there seemed no hope. Onwards and on- 
wards the yacht made her way, and still no sign 
of France. It might have been supposed that Ser- 
vadac's previous experiences would have prepared 
him for the discovery that the catastrophe which 
had overwhelmed other sites had brought destruc- 
tion to his own country as well. But he had failed 



OFF ON A COMET 



35 



10 realize how it might extend to France; and when 
now he was obliged with his own eye to witness the 
waves of ocean roiling over what once had been the 
lovely shores of Provence, he was well-nigh frantic 
with desperation. 

"Am 1 to believe that Gourbi Isiand, that little 
shred of Algeria, constitutes all that is left of our 
glorious France? No, no! it cannot be. Not yet 
have we reached the pole of our new world. There 
is — there must be- — something more behind that 
frowning rock. Oh, that for a moment we could 
scale its towering height and look beyond! By 
Heaven, I adjure you, lev us disembark, and mount 
the summit and explore! France lies beyond." 

Disembarkation, however, was an utter impossi- 
bility. There was no semblance of a creek in which 
the Dabryna could find an anchorage. There was 
no outlying ridge on which a footing could be 
gained. The precipice was perpendicular as a wall, 
its topmost height crowned with the same con- 
glomerate of crystallized lamellse that had all along 
been so pronounced a feature. 

With her steam at high presure, the yacht made 
rapid progress towards the east. The weather re- 
mained perfectly fine, the temperature became grad- 
ually cooler, so that there was little prospect of 
vapors accumulating in the atmosphere : and nothing 
more than 3 few cirri, almost transparent veiled 
here and there the clear azure of the sky. Through- 
out the day the pale rays of the sun, apparently 
lessened in its magnitude, cast only faint and some- 
what uncertain shadows; but at night the stars 
shone with surpassing brilliancy. Of the planets, 
some, it was observed, seemed to be fading away 
in remote distance. This was the case with Mars, 
Venus, and that unknown orb which was moving in 
the orbit of the minor planets; but Jupiter, on the 
other hand, had assumed splendid proportions; 
Saturn was superb in its luster, and Uranus, which 
hitherto had been imperceptible without a telescope 
was pointed out by Lieutenant Procope, plainly 
visible to the naked eye. The inference was irre- 
sistible that Gallia was receding from the sun, and 
traveling far away across the planetary regions. 

On the 24th of February, after following the 
sinuous course of what before the date of the con- 
vulsion had been the coast line of the department 
of Var, and after a fruitless search for Hyeres, the 
peninsula of St. Tropez, the Lerius Islands, and the 
gulfs of Cannes and jouar, the Dobryna arrived 
upon the site of the Cape of Antibes. 

Here, quite unexpectedly, the explorers made the 
discovery that the massive wall of cliff had been 
rent from the top to the bottom by a narrow rift, 
like the dry bed of a mountain torrent, and at the 
base of the opening, level with the sea, was a little 
strand upon which there was just space enough 
for their boat to be hauled up. 

"Joy! joy!" shouted Servadac, half beside him- 
self with ecstasy; "we can land at last!" 

Count Timascheff and the lieutenant were scarce- 
ly less impatient than the captain, and little needed 
his urgent and repeated solicitations: "Come on! 
Quick! Come on! no time to lose!" 

It was half-past seven in the morning, when they 
set their foot upon this untried land. The bit of 
strand was only a few square yards in area, quite 
a narrow strip. Upon it might have been recog- 
nized some fragments of that agglutination of yel- 



low limestone which is characteristic of the coast 
of Provence. But the whole party was far too) 
eager to wait and examine these remnants of the 
ancient shore; they hurried on to scale the heights. 

The narrow ravine was not only perfectly dry, 
but manifestly had never been the bed of any moun- 
tain torrent. The rocks that rested at the bottom 
— just as those which formed its sides — were of 
the same lamellous formation as the entire coast, 
and had not hitherto been subject to the disaggre- 
gation which the lapse of time never fails to work. 
A skilled geologist would probably have been able 
to assign them their proper scientific classification, 
but neither Servadac, Timascheff, nor the lieutenant 
could pretend to any acquaintance with their specific 
character. 

Although, however, the bottom of the chasm had 
never a3 yet been the channel of a stream, indica- 
tions were not wanting that at some future time 
it would be the natural outlet of accumulated 
waters ; for already, in many places, thin layers of 
snow were glittering upon the surface of the frac- 
tured rocks, and the higher the elevation that was 
gained, the more these layers were found to in- 
crease in area and in depth. 

"Here is a trace of fresh water, the first that 
Gallia has exhibited," said the count to his com- 
panions, as they toiled up the precipitous path. 

"And probably," replied the lieutenant, "as we 
ascend we shall find not only snow but ice. We 
must suppose this Gallia of ours to be a sphere, and 
if it is so, we must now be very close to her Arctic 
regions; it is true that her axis is not so much 
inclined as to prolong day and night as at the poles 
of the earth, but the rays of the sun must reach us 
here only very obliquely, and the cold, in all likeli- 
hood, will be intense." 

"So cold, do you think," asked Servadac, "that 
animal life must be extinct?" 

"I do not say that, captain," answered the lieu- 
tenant; "for, however far our little world may be 
removed from the sun, I do not see why it3 tem- 
perature should fall below what prevails in those 
outlying regions beyond our system where sky 
and air are not." 

"And what temperature may that be?" inquired 
the captain with a shudder. 

"Fourier estimates that even in those vast un- 
fathomable tracts the temperature never descends 
lower than 60° below zero," said Procope. 

"Sixty! Sixty degrees below zero!" cried the 
count. "Why, there's not a Russian could endure 
it!" 

"I beg your pardon, count. It is placed on rec- 
ord that the English have survived it, or something 
quite approximate, upon their Arctic expeditions. 
When Captain Parry was on Melville Island, he 
knew the thermometer to fall to — 56°," said 
Procope. 

As the explorers advanced, they seemed glad to 
pause from time to time, that they might recover 
their breath; for the air, becoming more and more 
rarefied, made respiration somewhat difficult and 
the ascent fatiguing. Before they had reached an 
altitude of 600 feet they noticed a sensible diminu- 
tion of the temperature; but neither cold nor 
fatigue deterred them, and they were resolved to 
persevere. Fortunately, the deep striae or furrows 
in the surface of the rocks that made the bottom 



36 



AMAZING STORIES 



of the ravine in some degree facilitated their prog- 
ress, but it was not until they had been toiling up 
for two hours more that they succeeded in reaching 
the summit of the cliff. 

Eagerly and anxiously did they look around. To 
the south there was nothing but the sea they had 
traversed ; to the north, nothing but one drear, in- 
hospitable stretch. 

Servadac could not suppress a cry of dismay. 
Where was his beloved France? Had he gained this 
arduous height oniy to behold the rocks carpeted 
with ice and snow, and reaching interminably to the 
far-off horizon? His heart sank within him. 

The whole region appeared to consist of nothing 
but the same strange, uniform mineral conglomer- 
ate crystallized into regular hexagonal prisms. But 
whatever was its geological character it was only 
too evident that it had entirely replaced the former 
soil, so that not a vestige of the old continent of 
Europe could be discerned. The lovely scenery of 
Provence, with the grace of its rich and undulating 
landscape; its gardens of citrons and oranges rising 
tier upon tier from the deep red soil — all, all had 
vanished. Of the vegetable kingdom, there was 
not a single representative; the most meager of 
Arctic plants, the most insignificant of lichens, 
could obtain no hold upon that stony waste. Nor 
did the animal world assert the feeblest sway. The 
mineral kingdom reigned supreme. 

Captain Servadac's deep dejection was in strange 
contrast to his general hilarity. Silent and tear- 
ful, he stood upon an ice-bound rock, straining his 
eyes across the boundless vista of the mysterious 
territory. "It cannot be!" he exclaimed. "We must 
somehow have mistaken our bearings. True, we 
have encountered this barrier; but France is there 
beyond! Yes, France is there! Come, count, come! 
By all that's pitiful, I entreat you, come and ex- 
plore the farthest verge of the ice-bound track!" 

He pushed onwards along the rugged surface of 
the rock, but had not proceeded far before he came 
to a. sudden pause. His foot had come in contact 
with something hard beneath the snow, and, stoop- 
ing down, he picked up a little block of stony sub- 
stance, which the first glance revealed to be of a 
geological character altogether alien to the uni- 
versal rocks around. It proved to be a fragment 
of discolored marble, on which several letters were 
inscribed, of which the only part at all decipherable 
was the syllable "Vil," 

"Vil — Villa I" he cried out, in his excitement 
dropping the marble, which was broken into atoms 
by the fall. 

What else could this fragment be but the sole 
surviving remnant of some sumptuous mansion 
that once had stood on this unrivaled site? Was it 
not the residue of some edifice that had crowned 
the luxuriant headlands of Antibes, overlooking 
Nice, and commanding the gorgeous panorama that 
embraced the Maritime Alps and reached beyond 
Monaco and Mentone to the Italian height of Bor- 
dighera? And did it not give in its sad and too 
convincing testimony that Antibes itself had been 
involved in the great destruction? Servadac gazed 
upon the shattered marble, pensive and dis- 
heartened. 

Count Timascheff laid his hand kindly on the 
captain's shoulder, and said, "My friend, do you 
not remember the motto of the old Hope family?" 



He shook his head mournfully. 

"Orbe fracto, spes Masa," continued the count — 
"Though the world be shattered, hope is unim- 
paired." 

Servadac smiled faintly, and replied that he felt 
rather compelled to take up the despairing cry of 
Dante, "All hope abandon, ye who enter here." 

"Nay, not so," answered the count; "for the pres- 
ent at least, let our maxim be Nil desperandum!" 

CHAPTER XVII 
A SECOND ENIGMA 

Upon re-embarking, the bewildered explorers 
began to discuss the question whether it would not 
now be desirable to make their way back to Gourbi 
Island, which was apparently the only spot in their 
new world from which they could hope to derive 
their future sustenance. Captain Servadac tried to 
console himself with the reflection that Gourbi Is- 
land was, after all, a fragment of a French colony, 
and as such almost like a bit of his dear France; 
and the plan of returning thither was on the point 
of being adopted, when Lieutenant Procope re- 
marked that they ought to remember that they had 
not hitherto made an entire circuit of the new 
shores of the sea on which they were sailing. 

"We have," he said, "neither investigated the 
northern shore from the site of Cape Antibes to 
the strait that brought us to Gibraltar, nor have 
we followed the southern shore that stretches from 
the strait to the Gulf of Cabes. It is the old coast, 
and not the new, that we have been tracing; as 
yet, we cannot say positively that there is no out- 
let to the south; as yet, we cannot assert that no 
oasis of the African desert has escaped the catas- 
trophe. Perhaps, even here in the north, we may 
find that Italy and Sicily and the larger islands of 
the Mediterranean may still maintain their exist- 

"I entirely concur with you," said Count Tima- 
scheff, "I quite think we ought to make our survey 
of the confines of this new basin as complete as 
possible before we withdraw." 

Servadac, although he acknowledged the justness 
of these observations, could not help pleading that 
the explorations might be deferred until after a 
visit had been paid to Gourbi Island. 

"Depend upon it, captain, you are mistaken," 
replied the lieutenant; "the right thing to do i3 
to use the Dobryna while she is available." 

"Available! What do you mean?" asked the 
count, somewhat taken by surprise. 

"I mean," said Procope, "that the farther this 
Gallia of ours recedes from the sun, the lower the 
temperature will fall. It is likely enough, I think, 
that before long the sea will be frozen over, and 
navigation will be impossible. Already you have 
learned something of the difficulties of traversing 
a field of ice, and I am sure, therefore, you will 
acquiesce in my wish to continue our explorations 
while the water is still open." 

"No doubt you are right, lieutenant," said the 
count. "We will continue our search while we can 
for some remaining fragment of Europe. Who shall 
tell whether we may not meet with some more sur- 
vivors from the catastrophe, to whom it might be 
in our power to afford assistance, before we go into 
our winter quarters?" 



OFF ON A COMET 



37 



Generous and altogether unselfish as this senti- 
ment really was, it was obviously to the general 
interest that they should become acquainted, and 
if possible establish friendly relations, with any 
human inhabitant who might be sharing their own 
strange destiny in being rolled away upon a new 
planet into the infinitude of space. All difference 
of race, all distinction of nationality, must be 
merged into the one thought that, few as they were, 
they were the sole surviving representatives of a 
world which it seemed exceedingly improbable that 
they would ever see again; and common sense dic- 
tated that they were bound to direct all their ener- 
gies to insure that their asteroid should at ieast 
have a united and sympathizing population. 

It was on the 25th of February that the yacht left 
the little creek in which she had taken refuge, and 
setting off at full steam eastwards, she continued 
her way along the northern shore. A brisk breeze 
tended to increase the keenness of the temperature, 
the thermometer being, on an average, about two 
degrees below zero. Salt water freezes only at a 
lower temperature than fresh; the course of the 
Dobryna was therefore unimpeded by ice, but it 
could not he concealed that there was the greatest 
necessity to maintain the utmost possible speed. 

The nights continued lovely; the chilled condition 
of the atmosphere prevented the formation of 
clouds; the constellations gleamed forth with un- 
sullied luster; and, much as Lieutenant Procope, 
from nautical considerations, might regret the ab- 
sence of the moon, he could not do otherwise than 
own that the magnificent nights of Gallia were such 
as must awaken the enthusiasm of an astronomer. 
And, as if to compensate for the loss of the moon- 
light, the heavens were illuminated by a superb 
shower of falling stars, far exceeding, both in num- 
ber and in brilliancy, the phenomena which are com- 
monly distinguished as the August and November 
meteors; in fact, Gallia was passing through that 
meteoric ring which is known to lie exterior to the 
earth's orbit, but almost concentric with it. The 
rocky coast, its metallic surface reflecting the glow 
of the dazzling luminaries, appeared literally stip- 
pled with light, whilst the sea, as though spattered 
with burning hailstones, shone with a phosphore- 
scence that was perfectly splendid. So great, how- 
ever, was the speed at which Gallia was receding 
from the sun, that this meteoric storm lasted 
scarcely more than four and twenty hours. 

Next day the direct progress of the Dobryna was 
arrested by a long projection of land, which obliged 
her to turn southwards, until she reached what 
formerly would have been the southern extremity 
of Corsica. Of this, however, there was now no 
trace; the Strait of Bonfaeio had been replaced by 
a vast expanse of water, which had at first all the 
appearance of being utterly desert; but on the fol- 
lowing morning the explorers unexpectedly sighted 
a little island, which, unless it should prove, as was 
only too likely, to be of recent origin they concluded, 
from its situation, must be a portion of the north- 
ernmost territory of Sardinia. 

The Dobryna approached the land as nearly as 
was prudent, the boat was lowered, and in a few 
minutes the count and Servadac had landed upon 
the islet, which was a mere plot of meadow land, 
not much more than two acres in extent, dotted here 
and there with a few myrtle-bushes and lentisks, 



interspersed with some ancient olives. Having as- 
certained, as they imagined, that the spot was de- 
void of living creature, they were on the point of 
returning to their boat, when their attention was 
arrested by a faint bleating, and immediately after- 
wards a solitary she-goat came bounding towards 
the shore. The creature had dark, almost black 
hair, and small curved horns, and was a specimen 
of that domestic breed which, with considerable 
justice, has gained for itself the title of "the poor 
man's cow." So far from being alarmed at the 
presence of strangers, the goat ran nimbly towards 
them, and then, by its movements and plaintive 
cries, seemed to be enticing them to follow it. 

"Come," said Servadac; "let us see where it will 
lead us; it is more than probable it is not alone." 

The count agreed ; and the animal, as if compre- 
hending what was said, trotted on gently for about 
a hundred paces, and stopped in front of a kind of 
cave or burrow that was half concealed by a grove 
of lentisks. Here a little girl, seven or eight years 
of age, with rich brown hair and lustrous dark eyes, 
beautiful as one of Murillo's angels, was peeping 
shyly through the branches. Apparently discover- 
ing nothing in the aspect of the strangers to excite 
her apprehensions, the child suddenly gained con- 
fidence, darted forwards with outstretched hands, 
and in a voice, soft and melodious as the language 
which she spoke, said in Italian: 

"I like you; you will not hurt me, will you?" 

"Hurt you, my child?" answered Servadac. "No, 
indeed; we will be your friends; we will take care 
of you." 

And after a few moments' scrutiny of the pretty 
maiden, he added: 

"Tell us your name, little one." 

"Nina!" was the child's reply. 

"Well, then, Nina, can you tell us where we 
are?" 

"At Madalena, I think," said the little girl; "at 
least, I know I was there when that dreadful shock 
came and altered everything." 

The count knew that Madalena was close to Cap- 
rera, to the north of Sardinia, which had entirely 
disappeared in the disaster. By dint of a series 
of questions, he gained from the child a very in- 
telligent account of her experiences. She told him 
that she had no parents, and had been employed in 
taking care of a flock of goats belonging to one 
of the landowners, when one day, all of a sudden, 
everything around her, except this little piece of 
land, had been swallowed up, and that she and 
Marzy, her pet goat, had been left quite alone. She 
went on to say that at first she had been very fright- 
ened; but when she found that the earth did not 
shake any more, she had thanked the great God, and 
had soon made herself very happy living with Mar- 
zy. She had enough food, she said, and had been 
waiting for a boat to fetch her, and now a boat 
had come and she was quite ready to go away; only 
they must let her goat go with her: they would both 
like so much to get back to the old farm. 

"Here, at least, is one nice little inhabitant of 
Gallia," said Captain Servadac, as he caressed the 
child and conducted her to the boat. 

Half an hour later, both Nina and Marzy were 
safely quartered on board the yacht. It is needless 
to say that they received the heartiest of welcomes. 
The Russian sailors, ever superstitious, seemed al- 



38 



AMAZING STORIES 



most to regard the coming of the child as the ap- 
pearance of an angel; and, incredible as it may 
seem, more than one of them wondered whether she 
had wiags, and amongst themselves they commonly 
referred to her as "the little Madonna." 

Soon out of sight of Madalena, the Dobryna for 
some hours held a southeasterly course along the 
shore, which here was fifty leagues in advance of 
the former coast-line of Italy, demonstrating that a 
new continent must have been formed, substituted 
as it were for the old peninsula, of which not a 
vestige could be identified. At a latitude corre- 
sponding with the latitude of Rome, the sea took 
the form of a deep gulf, extending back far beyond 
the site of the Eternal City; the coast making a 
wide sweep round to the former position of Cala- 
bria, and jutting far beyond the outline of "the 
boot," which Italy resembles. But the beacon of 
Messina was not to be discerned ; no trace, indeed, 
survived of any portion of Sicily; the very peak 
of Etna, 11,000 feet as it had reared itself above 
the level of the sea, had vanished utterly. 

Another sixty leagues to the south, and the Dob- 
ryna sighted the entrance of the strait which had 
afforded her so providential a refuge from the 
tempest, and had conducted her to the fragmentary 
relic of Gibraltar. Hence to the Gulf of Cabes had 
been already explored, and as it was universally al- 
lowed that it was unnecessary to renew the search 
in that direction, the lieutenant started off in a 
transverse course, towards a point hitherto unin- 
vestigated. That point was reached on the 3rd of 
March, and thence the coast was continuously fol- 
lowed, as it led through what had been Tunis, across 
the province of Constantine, away to the oasis of 
Ziban ; where, taking a sharp turn, it first reached 
a latitude of 32° N. and then returned again, thus 
forming a sort of irregular gulf, enclosed by the 
same unvarying border of mineral concrete. This 
colossal boundary then stretched away for nearly 
150 leagues over the Sahara desert, and, extending 
to the south of Gourbi Island, occupied what, if 
Morocco had still existed, would have been its 
natural frontier. , 

Adapting her course to these deviations of the 
coastline, the Dobryna was steering northwards, 
and had barely reached the limit of the bay, when 
the attention of all on board was arrested by the 
phenomenon of a volcano, at least 3,000 feet high, 
its crater crowned with smoke, which occasionally 
was streaked by tongues of flame. 

"A burning mountain!" they exclaimed. 

"Gallia, then, has some internal heat," said Ser- 
vadac. 

"And why not, captain?" rejoined the lieutenant. 
"If our asteroid has carried with it a portion of 
the old earth's atmosphere, why should it not like- 
wise retain something of its central fire?" 

"Ah, well!" said the captain, shrugging his 
shoulders, "I dare say there is calorie enough in 
our little world to supply the wants of its popula- 
tion." 

Count Timascheff interrupted the silence that 
followed this conversation by saying, "And now, 
gentlemen, as our course has brought us on our way 
once more towards Gibraltar, what do you say to 
our renewing our acquaintance with the English- 
men? They will be interested in the result of our 
voyage." 



"For my part," said Servadae, "I have no desire 
that way. They know where to find Gourbi Island ; 
they can betake themselves thither just when they 
please. They have plenty of provisions. If the 
water freezes, 120 leagues is no very great distance. 
The reception they gave ua was not so cordial that 
we need put ourselves out of the way to repeat our 
visit." 

"What you say is too true," replied the count. 
"I hope we shall show them better manners when 
they condescend to visit us." 

"Ay," said Servadae, "we must remember that we 
are all one people now; no longer Russian, Freneh, 
or English. Nationality is extinct." 

"I am sadly afraid, however," continued the 
count, "that an Englishman will be an Englishman 
ever." 

"Yes," said the captain, "that is always their 
failing." 

And thus all further thought of making their 
way again to the little garrison of Gibraltar was 
abandoned. 

But even if their spirit of courtesy had disposed 
them to renew their acquaintance with the British 
officers, there were two circumstances that just 
then would have rendered such a proposal very in- 
advisable. In the first place, Lieutenant Procope 
was convinced that it could not be much longer 
now before the sea would be entirely frozen ; and, 
besides this, the consumption of their coal, through 
the speed they had maintained, had been so great 
that there was only too much reason to fear that 
fuel would fail them. Anyhow, the strictest econ- 
omy was necessary, and it was accordingly resolved 
that the voyage should not be much prolonged. Be- 
yond the volcanic peak, moreover, the waters seemed 
to expand into a boundless ocean, and it might be 
a thing full of risk to be frozen up while the yacht 
was so inadequately provisioned. Taking all these 
things into account, it was agreed that further in- 
vestigations should be deferred to a more favorable 
season, and that, without delay, the Dobryna should 
return to Gourbi Island. 

This decision was especially welcome to Hector 
Servadae, who, throughout the whole of the last 
five weeks, had been agitated by much anxious 
thought on account of the faithful servant he had 
left behind. 

The transit from the volcano to the island was 
not long, and was marked by only one noticeable 
incident. This was the finding of a second mysteri- 
ous document, in character precisely similar to what 
they had found before. The writer of it was evi- 
dently engaged upon a calculation, probably con- 
tinued from day to day, as to the motions of the 
planet Gallia upon its orbit, and committing the 
results of his reckonings to the waves as the chan- 
nel of communication. 

Instead of being enclosed in a telescope -case, it 
was thi3 time secured in a preserved-meat tin, 
hermetically sealed, and stamped with the same 
initials on the wax that fastened it. The greatest 
care was used in opening it, and it was found to 
contain the following message: 
"Gallia (?) 

Ab sole, au 1 mars, dist. 78,000,000 1.! 
Chemin parcouru de fev. a mars : 59,000,000 1 ! 
Va bene! All right! Nil d 
Encliante!" 



OFF ON A COMET 



39 



"Another enigma!" exclaimed Servadac; "and 
still no intelligible signature, and no address. No 
clearing up of the mystery!" 

"I have no doubt, in my own mind," said the 
count, "that it is one of a series. It seems to me 
probable that they are being sent broadcast upon 
the sea." 

"I wonder where the hare-brained savant that 
writes them can be living?" observed Servadac. 

"Very likely he may have met with the fate of 
JEsop's abstracted astronomer, who found himself 
at the bottom of a well." 

"Aye; but where is that well?" demanded the 
captain. 

This was a question which the count was in- 
capable of settling; and they could only speculate 
afresh as to whether the author of the riddles wa3 
dwelling upon some solitary island, or, like them- 
selves, was navigating the waters of the new Med- 
iterranean. But they could detect nothing to guide 
them to a definite decision. 

After thoughtfully regarding the document for 
some time, Lieutenant Procope proceeded to ob- 
serve that he believed the paper might be con- 
sidered as genuine, and accordingly, taking its 
statements as reliable, he deduced two important 
conclusions: first, that whereas, in the month of 
January, the distance traveled by the planet (hypo- 
thetical^ called Gallia) had been recorded as 82,- 
000,000 leagues, the distance traveled in February 
was only 59,000,000 leagues — a difference of 23,- 
000,000 leagues in one month; secondly, that the 
distance of the planet from the sun, which on the 
15th of February had been 59,000,000 leagues, was 
on the 1st of March 78,000,000 leagues — an increase 
of 19,000,000 leagues in a fortnight. | Thus, in pro- 
portion as Gallia receded from the sun, so did the 
rate of speed diminish by which she traveled along 
her orbit; facts to be observed in perfect conform- 
ity with the known laws of celestial mechanism, 

"And your inference?" asked the count. 

"My inference," replied the lieutenant, "is a con- 
firmation of my surmise that we are following an 
orbit decidedly elliptical, although we have not yet 
the material to determine its eccentricity," 

"As the writer adheres to the appellation of 
Gallia, do you not think," asked the count, "that 
we might call these new waters the Gallian Sea?" 

"There can be no reason to the contrary, count," 
replied the lieutenant; "and as such I will insert 
it upon my new chart." 

"Our friend," said Servadac, "seems to be more 
and more gratified with the condition of things; 
not only has he adopted our motto, 'Nil desperan- 
dum!' but see how enthusiastically he has wound 
up with his 'EnchanW.'" 

The conversation dropped. 

A few hours later the man on watch announced 
that Gourbi Island was in sight. 

CHAPTER XVIII 

AN UNEXPECTED POPULATION 

THE Dobryna was now back again at the island. 
Her cruise had lasted from the 31st of January to 
the 5th of March, a period of thirty-five days (for 
it was leap year), corresponding to seventy days 
as accomplished by the new little world. 

Many a time during his absence Hector Servadac 



had wondered how his present vicissitudes would 
end, and he had felt some misgivings as to whether 
he should ever again set foot upon the island, and 
see his faithful orderly, so that it was not without 
emotion that he had approached the coast of the 
sole remaining fragment of Algerian soil. But his 
apprehensions were groundless; Gourbi Island was 
just as he had left it, with nothing unusual in its 
aspect, except that a very peculiar cloud was hover- 
ing over it, at an altitude of little more than a hun- 
dred feet. As the yacht approached the shore, this 
cloud appeared to rise and fall as if acted upon by 
some invisible agency, and the captain, after watch- 
ing it carefully, perceived that it was not an accumu- 
lation of vapors at all, but a dense mass of birds 
packed as closely together as a swarm of herrings, 
and uttering deafening and discordant cries, amidst 
which from time to time the noise of the report 
of a gun could be plainly distinguished. 

The Dobryna signalized her arrival by firing her 
cannon, and dropped anchor in the little port of the 
Shelif. Almost within a minute Ben Zoof was seen 
running, gun in hand, towards the shore; he cleared 
the last ridge of rocks at a single hound, and then 
suddenly halted. For a few seconds he stood mo- 
tionless, his eyes fixed, as if obeying the instruc- 
tions of a drill sergeant, on a point some fifteen 
yards distant, his whole attitude indicating sub- 
mission and respect; but the sight of the captain, 
who was landing, was too much for his equanimity, 
and darting forward, he seized his master's hand 
and covered it with kisses. Instead, however, of 
uttering any expressions of welcome or rejoicing 
at the captain's return, Ben Zoof broke out into 
the most vehement ejaculations. 

"Thieves, captain! beastly thieves! Bedouins! 
pirates! devils!" 

"Why, Ben Zoof, what's the matter?" said Ser- 
vadac soothingly. 

"They are thieves ! downright, desperate thieves ! 
those infernal birds! That's what's' the matter. It 
is a good thing you have come. Here have I for a 
whole month been spending my powder and shot 
upon them, and the more I kill them, the worse they 
get; and yet, if I were to leave them alone, we 
should not have a grain of corn upon the island." 

It was soon evident that the orderly had only 
too much cause for alarm. The crops had ripened 
rapidly during the excessive heat of January, when 
the orbit of Gallia was being traversed at its peri- 
helion, and were now exposed to the depredations 
of many thousands of birds; and although a goodly 
number of stacks attested the industry of Ben Zoof 
during the time of the Dobryna's voyage, it was 
only too apparent that the portion of the harvest 
that remained ungathered was liable to the most 
imminent risk of being utterly devoured. It was, 
perhaps, only natural that this clustered mass of 
birds, as representing the whole of the feathered 
tribe upon the surface of Gallia, should resort to 
Gourbi Island, of which the meadows seemed to be 
the only spot from which they could get sustenance 
at all; but as this sustenance would be obtained at 
the expense, and probably to the serious detriment, 
of the human population, it was absolutely neces- 
sary that every possible resistance should.be made 
to the devastation that was threatened. 

Once satisfied that Servadac and his friends would 
co-operate with him in the raid upon "the thieves," 



« 



AMAZING STORIES 



Ben Zoof became calm and content, and began to 
make various inquiries. "And what has become," 
he said, "of all our old comrades in Africa?" 

"As far as I can tell you," answered the captain, 
"they are all in Africa still; only Africa isn't by 
any means where we expected to find it." 

"And France? Montmartre?" continued Ben 
Zoof eagerly. Here was the cry of the poor fellow's 
heart. 

As briefly as he could, Servadac endeavored to 
explain the true condition of things; he tried to 
communicate the fact that Paris, France, Europe, 
nay, the whole world was more than eighty millions 
of leagues away from Gourbi Island ; as gently and 
cautiously as he could he expressed his fear that 
they might never see Europe, France, Paris, Mont- 
mart re again. 

"No, no, sir!" protested Ben Zoof emphatically; 
"that is all nonsense. It is altogether out of the 
question to suppose that we are not to see Mont- 
martre again." And the orderly shook his head 
resolutely, with the air of a man determined, in 
spite of argument, to adhere to his own opinion. 

"Very good, my brave fellow," replied Servadac, 
"hope on, hope while you may. The message has- 
come to us over the sea, 'Never despair' ; but one 
thing, nevertheless, is certain; we must forthwith 
commence arrangements for making this island our 
permanent home." 

Captain Servadac now led the way to the gourbi, 
which, by his servant's exertions, had been entirely 
rebuilt; and here he did the honors of his modest 
establishment to his two guests, the count and the 
lieutenant, and gave a welcome, too, to little Nina, 
who had accompanied them on shore, and between 
whom and Ben Zoof the most friendly relations had 
already been established. 

The adjacent building continued in good preserva- 
tion, and Captain Servadae's satisfaction was very 
great in finding the two horses, Zephyr and Galette, 
comfortably housed in there and in good condition. 

After the enjoyment of some refreshment, the 
party proceeded to a general consultation as to what 
steps must be taken for their future welfare. The 
most pressing matter that came before them was 
the consideration of the means to be adopted to 
enable the inhabitants of Gallia to survive the terri- 
ble cold, which, in their ignorance of the true ec- 
centricity of their orbit, might, for aught they 
knew, last for an almost indefinite period. Fuel 
was far from abundant; of coal there was none; 
trees and shrubs were few in number, and to cut 
them down in prospect of the coid seemed a very 
questionable policy; but there was no doubt that 
some expedient must be devised to prevent disaster, 
and that withqut delay. 

The victualing of the little colony offered no 
immediate difficulty. Water was abundant, and the 
cisterns could hardly fail to be replenished by the 
numerous streams that meandered along the plains; 
moreover, the Gallian Sea would ere long be frozen 
over, and the melted ice, (water in its congealed 
state being divested of every particle of salt) would 
afford a supply of drink that could not be exhausted. 
The crops that were now ready for the harvest, and 
the flocks and herds scattered over the island, would 
form an ample reserve. There was little doubt that 
throughout the winter the soil would remain unpro- 
ductive, and no fresh fodder for domestic animals 



could then be obtained; it would therefore be neces- 
sary, if the exact duration of Gallia's year should 
ever be calculated, to proportion the number of 
animals to be reserved to the real length of the 
winter. 

The next thing requisite was to arrive at a true 
estimate of the number of the population. Without 
including the thirteen Englishmen at Gibraltar, 
about whom he was not particularly disposed to 
give himself much concern at present, Servadac 
put down the names of the eight Russians, the two 
Frenchman, and the little Italian girl, eleven in all, 
as the entire list of the inhabitants of Gourbi Is- 
land. 

"Oh, pardon me," interposed Ben Zoof, "you are 
mistaking the state of the ease altogether. You 
will be surprised to learn that the total of people 
on the island is double that. It is twenty-two." 

"Twenty-two!" exclaimed the captain; "twenty- 
two people on this island? What do you mean?" 

"The opportunity has not occurred," answered 
Ben Zoof, "for me to tell you before, but I have had 
company." 

"Explain yourself, Ben Zoof," said Servadac. 
"What company have you had?" 

"You could not suppose," replied the orderly, 
"that my own unassisted hands could have accom- 
plished all that harvest work that you see has been 
done." 

"I confess," said Lieutenant Procope, "we do 
not seem to have noticed that." 

"Well, then," said Ben Zoof, "if you will be good 
enough to come with me for about a mile, I shall 
be able to show you my companions. But we must 
take our guns," 

"Why take our guns?" asked Servadac. "I hope 
we are not going to fight." 

"No, not with men," said Ben Zoof; "but it does 
not answer to throw a chance away for giving 
battle to those thieves of birds." 

Leaving little Nina and her goat in the gourbi, 
Servadac, Count Timascheff, and the lieutenant, 
greatly mystified, took up their guns and followed 
the orderly. All along their way they made un- 
sparing slaughter of the birds that hovered over 
and around them. Nearly every species of the 
feathered tribe seemed to have its representative in 
that living cloud. There were wild ducks in thou- 
sands ; snipe, larks, rooks, and swallows ; a countless 
variety of sea-birds — widgeons, gulls, and seamews; 
beside a quantity of game — quails, partridges, and 
woodcocks. The sportsmen did their best; every 
shot told; and the depredators fell by dozens on 
either hand. 

Instead of following the northern shore of the 
island, Ben Zoof cut obliquely across the plain. 
Making their progress with the unwonted rapidity 
which was attributable to their specific lightness, 
Servadac and his companions soon found themselves 
near a grove of sycamores and eucalyptus massed 
in picturesque confusion at the base of a little hill. 
Here they halted. 

"Ah! the vagabonds! the rascals! the thieves!" 
suddenly exclaimed Ben Zoof, stamping his foot 
with rage. 

"How now? Are your friends the birds at their 
pranks again?" asked the captain. 

"No, I don't mean the birds: I mean those lazy 
beggars that are shirking their work. Look here; 



OFF ON A COMET 



41 



look there!" And as Ben Zoof spoke, he pointed 
to some scythes, and sickles, and other implements 
of husbandry that had been left upon the ground. 

"What is it you mean?" asked Servadac, getting 
somewhat impatient. 

"Hush, hush! listen!" was all Ben Zoof's reply; 
and he raised his finger as if in warning. 

Listening attentively, Servadac and his associates 
could distinctly recognize a human voice, accom- 
panied by the notes of a guitar and by the measured 
click of castanets. 

"Spaniards!" said Servadac. 

"No mistake about that, sir," replied Ben Zoof; 
"a Spaniard would rattle his castanets at the can- 
non's mouth.' ' 

"But what is the meaning of it all?" asked the 
captain, more puzzled. than before. 

"Hark!" said Ben Zoof; "it is the old man's 
turn." 

And then a voice, at once gruff and harsh, was 
heard vociferating, "My money! my money! when 
will you pay me my money? Pay me what you owe 
me, you miserable majos." 

Meanwhile the song continued: 
"Tu sandunga- y cigarro, 
Y una cava de Jerez, 
Mi jamelgo y un trabnco, 
Que mas gloria puede haver?" 

Servadac's knowledge of Gascon enabled him 
partially to comprehend the rollicking tenor of the 
Spanish patriotic air, but his attention was again 
arrested bv the voice of the old man growling sav- 
agely, "Pay me you shall; yes, by the God of Abra- 
ham, you shall pay me." 

"A Jew!" exclaimed Servadac. 

"Ay, sir, a German Jew," said Ben Zoof. 

The party was on the point of entering the thick- 
et, when a singular spectacle made them pause. A 
group of Spaniards had just begun dancing their 
national fandango, and the extraordinary lightness 
which had become the physical property of every 
object in the new planet made the dancers bound to 
a height of thirty feet or more into the air, con- 
siderably above the tops of the trees. What fol- 
lowed was irresistibly comic. Four sturdy majos 
had dragged along with them an old man incapable 
of resistance, and compelled him, nolens volens, to 
join in the dance; and as they all kept appearing 
and disappearing above the bank of foliage, their 
grotesque attitudes, combined with the pitiable 
countenance of their helpless victim, could not do 
otherwise than recall most forcibly the story of 
Sancho Panza tossed in a blanket by the merry 
drapers of Segovia. 

Servadac, the count, Procope, and Ben Zoof now 
proceeded to make their way through the thicket 
until they came to a little glade, where two men 
were stretched idly on the grass, one of them play- 
ing the guitar, and the other a pair of castanets; 
both were exploding with laughter, as they urged 
the performers to greater and yet greater exertions 
in the dance. At the sight of strangers- they paused 
in their music, and simultaneously the dancers, 
with their victim, alighted gently on the sward. 

Breathless and half exhausted as was the Jew, 
he rushed with an effort towards Servadac, and 
exclaimed in French, marked by a strong Teutonic 
accent, "Oh, my Lord Governor, help me, help! 
These rascals defraud me of my rights; they rob 



me; but, in the name of the God of Israel, I ask 
you to see justice done!" 

The captain glanced inquiringly towards Ben 
Zoof, and the orderly, by a significant nod, made 
his master understand that he was to play the part 
that was implied by the title. He took the cue, and 
promptly ordered the Jew to hold his tongue at 
once. The man bowed his head in servile submis- 
sion, and folded his hands upon his breast. 

Servadac surveyed him leisurely. He was a man 
of about fifty, but from his appearance might well 
have been taken for at least ten years older. Small 
and skinny, with eyes bright and cunning, a hooked 
nose, a 3hort yellow beard, unkempt hair, huge feet, 
and long bony hands, he presented all the typical 
characteristics of the German Jew, the heartless, 
wily usurer, the hardened miser and skinflint. As 
iron is attracted by the magnet, so was this Shy- 
lock attracted by the sight of gold, nor would he 
have hesitated to draw the life-blood of his credi- 
tors, if by such means he could secure his claims. 

His name was Isaac Hakkabut, and he was a na- 
tive of Cologne. Nearly the whole of his time, 
however, he informed Captain Servadac, had been 
spent upon the sea, his real business being that of 
a merchant trading at all the ports of the Med- 
iterranean. A tartan, a small vessel of two hundred 
tons burden, conveyed his entire stock of merchan- 
dise, and, to say the truth, was a sort of floating 
emporium, conveying nearly every possible article 
of commerce, from a lucifer match to the radiant 
fabrics of Frankfort and Epinal. Without wife 
or children, and having no settled home, Isaac Hak- 
kabut lived almost entirely on board the Hansa, as 
he had named his tartan; and engaging a mate, with 
a crew of three men, as being adequate to work so 
light a craft, he cruised along the coasts of Algeria, 
Tunis, Egypt, Turkey, and Greece, visiting more- 
over, most of the harbors of the Levant. Careful 
to be always well supplied with the products in 
most general demand — coffee, sugar, rice, tobacco, 
cotton stuffs, and gunpowder — and being at all 
times ready to barter, and prepared to deal in se- 
condhand wares, he had contrived to amass consid- 
erable wealth. 

On the eventful night of the 1st of January the 
Hansa had been at Ceuta, the point on the coast of 
Morocco exactly opposite Gibraltar. The mate and 
three sailors had all gone on shore, and, in com- 
mon with many of their fellow-creatures, had en- 
tirely disappeared; but the most projecting rock 
of Ceuta had been undisturbed by the general 
catastrophe, and half a score of Spaniards, who 
had happened to be upon it, had escaped with their 
lives. They were all Andalusian majos, agricul- 
tural laborers, and naturally as careless and' apa- 
thetic as men of their class usually are, but they 
could not help being very considerably embarrassed 
when they discovered that they were left in soli- 
tude upon a detached and isolated rock. They took 
what mutual counsel they could) but became only 
more and more perplexed. One of them was named 
Negrete, and he, as having traveled somewhat more 
than the rest, was tacitly recognized as a sort of 
leader; but although he was by far the most en- 
lightened of them all, he was quite incapable of 
forming the least conception of the nature of what 
had occurred. The one thing upon which they 
could not fail to be conscious was that they had 



42 



AMAZING STORIES 



no prospect of obtaining provisions, and consequent- 
ly their first business was to devise a scheme for 
getting away from their present abode. The Hansa 
was lying off shore. The Spaniards would not have 
had the slightest hesitation in summarily taking 
possession of her, but their utter ignorance of sea- 
manship made them reluctantly come to the conclu- 
sion that the more prudent policy was to make 
terms with the owner. 

And now came a singular part of the story. 
Negrete and his companions had meanwhile re- 
ceived a visit from two English officers from Gib- 
raltar. What passed between them the Jew did not 
know; he only knew that, immediately after the con- 
elusion of the interview, Negrete came to him and 
ordered him to set sail at once for the nearest point 
of Morocco. The Jew, afraid to disobey, but with 
his eye ever upon the main chance, stipulated that 
at the end of their voyage the Spaniards should pay 
for their passage — terms to which, as they would 
to any other, they did not demur, knowing that they 
had not the slightest intention of giving him a 
single real. 

The Hansa had weighed anchor on the 3rd of 
February. The wind blew from the west, and con- 
sequently the working of the tartan was easy 
enough, The unpracticed sailors had only toJhoist 
their sails and, though they were quite unconscious 
of the fact, the breeze carried them to the only spot 
upon the little world they occupied which could af- 
ford them a refuge. 

Thus it fell out that one morning Ben Zoof, from 
his lookout on Gourbi Island, saw a ship, not the 
Dobryna, appear upon the horizon, and make quiet- 
ly down towards what had formerly been the right 
bank of the Shelif. 

Such was Ben Zoofs version of what had oc- 
curred, as he had gathered it from the new-comers. 
He wound up his recital by remarking that the 
cargo of the Hansa would be of immense service to 
them; he expected, indeed, that Isaac Hakkabut 
would be difficult to manage, but considered there 
could be no harm in appropriating the goods for 
the common welfare, since there could be no op- 
portunity now for selling them. 

Ben Zoof added, "And as to the difficulties be- 
tween the Jew and his passengers, I told him that 
the governor general was absent on a tour of in- 
spection, and that he would see everything equitably 
settled." 

Smiling at his orderly's tactics, Servadac turned 
to Hakkabut, and told him that he would take care 
that his claims should be duly investigated and all 
proper demands should be paid. The man appeared 
satisfied, and, for the time at least, desisted from 
his complaints and importunities. 

When the Jew had retired, Count Timascheff 
asked "But how in the world can you ever make 
those fellows pay anything?" 

"They have lots of money," said Ben Zoof. 

"Not likely," replied the count; "when did you 
ever know Spaniards like them to have lots of 
money?" 

"But I have seen it myself," said Ben Zoof; "and 
it is English money." 

"English money!" echoed Servadac; and his mind 
again reverted to the excursion made by the colonel 
and the major from Gibraltar, about which they had 



been so reticent. "We must inquire more about 
this," he said. 

Then, addressing Count Timascheff, he added, 
"AltogetiAc I think the countries of Europe are 
fairly represented by the population of Gallia." 

"True, captain," answered the count; "we have 
only a fragment of a world, but it contains natives 
of France, Russia, Italy, Spain, and England. Even 
Germany may be said to have a representative in 
the person of this miserable Jew."' 
' "And even in him," said Servadac, "perhaps we 
shall not find so indifferent a representative as we 
at present imagine." 

CHAPTER XIX 

GALLIA'S GOVERNOR GENERAL 

The Spaniards who had arrived on board the 
Hansa consisted of nine men and a lad of twelve 
years of age, named Pablo. They all received Cap- 
tain Servadac, whom Ben Zoof introduced as the 
governor general, with due respect, and returned 
quickly to their separate tusks. The captain and his 
friends, followed at some distance by the eager Jew, 
soon left the glade and directed their steps towards 
the coast where the Hansa was moored. 

As they went they discussed their situation. As 
far as they had ascertained, except Gourbi Island, 
the sole surviving fragments of the Old World were 
four small islands: the bit of Gibraltar occupied by 
the Englishmen; Ceuta, which had just been left 
by the Spaniards ; Madalena, where they had picked 
up the little Italian girl; and the site of the tomb 
of Saint Louis on the coast of Tunis. Around these 
there was stretched out the full extent of the Gailian 
Sea, which apparently comprised about one-half of 
the Mediterranean, the whole being encompassed 
by a barrier like a framework of precipitous cliffs, 
of an origin and a substance alike unknown. 

Of all these spots only two were known to be in- 
habited : Gibraltar, where the thirteen Englishmen 
were amply provisioned for some years to come, 
and their own Gourbi Island. Here there was a 
population of twenty-two, who would all have to 
subsist upon the natural products of the soil. It wa3 
indeed not to be forgotten that, perchance, upon 
some remote and undiscovered isle there might be 
the solitary writer of the mysterious papers which 
they had found, and if so, that would raise the 
census of their new asteroid to an aggregate of 
thirty-six. 

Even upon the supposition that at some future 
date the whole population should be compelled to 
unite and find a residence upon Gourbi Island, there 
did not appear any reason to question but that 
eight hundred acres of rich soil, under good man- 
agement, would yield them all an ample sus- 
tenance. The only critical matter was how 
long the cold season would last; every hope 
depended upon the land again becoming productive; 
at present, it seemed impossible to determine, even 
if Gallia's orbit were really elliptical, when she would 
reach her aphelion, and it was consequently neces- 
sary that the Gallians for the time being should 
reckon on nothing beyond their actual and present 
resources. 

These resources were, first, the provisions of the 
Dobryna, consisting of preserved meat, sugar, wine, 



OFF ON A COMET 



+3 



brandy, and other stores sufficient for about two 
months; secondly, the valuable cargo of the Hansa, 
which, sooner or later, the owner, whether he would 
or not, must be compelled to surrender for the com- 
mon benefit; and lastly, the produce of the island, 
animal and vegetable, which with proper economy 
might be made to last for a considerable period. 

In the course of the conversation, Count Tima- 
scheff took an opportunity of saying that, as Cap- 
tain Servadac had already been presented to the 
Spaniards as governor of the island, he thought it 
advisable that he should really assume that position. 

"Every body of men," he observed, "must have 
a head, and you, as a Frenchman, should, I think, 
take the command of this fragment of a French 
colony. My men, I can answer for it, are quite pre- 
pared to recognize you as their superior officer." 

"Most unhesitatingly," replied Servadac, "I ac- 
cept the post with al! its responsibilities. We un- 
derstand each other so well that I fell sure we shall 
try and work together for the common good; and 
even if it be our fate never again to behold our 
fellow creatures, I have no misgivings but that we 
shall be able to cope with whatever difficulties may 
be before us," 

As he spoke, he held out his hand. The count 
took it, at the same time making a slight bow. It 
was the first time since their meeting that the two 
men had shaken hands; on the other hand, not ;i 
single word about their former rivalry had ever 
escaped their lips; perhaps that was all forgotten 

The silence of a few moments was broken by Ser- 
vadac saying, "Do you not think we ought to explain 
our situation to the Spaniards?" 

"No, no, your Excellency," burst in Ben Zoof, 
emphatically; "the fellows are chicken-hearted 
enough already; only tell them what has happened, 
and in sheer despondency they will not do another 
stroke of work." 

"Besides," said Lieutenant Procope, who took 
very much the same view as the orderly, "they are 
so miserably ignorant they would be sure to mis- 
understand you." 

"Understand or misunderstand," replied Serva- 
dac, "I do not think it matters. They would not 
care. They are all fatalists. Only give them a 
guitar and their castanets, and they will soon forget 
all care and anxiety. For my own part, I must 
adhere to my belief that it will be advisable to tell 
them everything. Have you any opinion to offer, 
count?" 

"My own opinion, captain, coincides entirely with 
yours. I have followed the plan of explaining all 
I could to my men on board the Dobryna, and no 
inconvenience ha3 arisen." 

"Well, then, so let it be," said the captain; adding, 
"It is not likely that these Spaniards are so ignorant 
as not to have noticed the ehange in length of the 
days ; neither can they be unaware of the physical 
changes that have transpired. They shall certainly 
be told that we are being carried away into un- 
known regions of space, and that this island is 
nearly all that remains of the Old World." 

"Ha! ha!" laughed Ben Zoof, aloud; "it will be 
tine sport to watch the old Jew's face, when he is 
made to comprehend that he is flying away millions 
and millions of leagues from all his debtors," 

Isaac Hakkabut was about fifty yards behind, and 



was consequently unable to overhear the_conversa- 
tion. He went shambling along, half whimpering 
and not infrequently invoking the God of Israel; 
but every now and then a cunning light gleamed 
from his eyes, and his lips became compressed with 
a grim significance. 

None of the recent phenomena had escaped his 
notice, and more than once he had attempted to 
entice Ben Zoof into conversation upon the subject; 
but the orderly made no secret of his antipathy to 
him, and generally replied to his advances either by 
satire or by banter. He told him that he had every- 
thing to gain under the new system of nights and 
days, for, instead of living the Jew's ordinary life 
of a century, he would reach to the age of two cen- 
turies; and he congratulated him upon the circum- 
stance of things having become so light, because it 
would prevent him feeling the burden of his years. 
At another time he would declare that, to an old 
usurer like him, it could not matter in the least 
what had become of the moon, as he could not pos- 
sibly have advanced any money upon her. And 
when Isaac, undaunted by his jeers, persevered in 
besetting him with questions, he tried to silence 
him by saying, "Only wait till the governor general 
comes ; he is a shrewd fellow, and will tell you all 
about it." 

"But will he protect my property?" poor Isaac 
would ask tremulously, 

"To be sure he will ! He would confiscate it all 
rather than that you should be robbed of it." 

With this Job's comfort the Jew had been obliged 
to content himself as best he could, and to await the 
promised arrival of the governor. 

When Servadac and his companions reached the 
shore, they found that the Hansa had anchored in 
an exposed bay, protected but barely by a few pro- 
jecting rocks, and in such a position that a gale ris- 
ing from the west would inevitably drive her on 
to the land, where" she must be dashed in pieces. 
It would be the height of folly to leave her in her 
present moorings; without loss of time she must 
be brought round to the mouth of the Shelif, in 
immediate proximity to the Russian yacht. 

The consciousness that his tartan was the subject 
of discussion made the Jew give way to such vehe- 
ment ejaculations of anxiety, that Servadac turned 
round and peremptorily ordered him to desist from 
his clamor. Leaving the old man under the sur- 
veillance of the count and Ben Zoof, the captain and 
the lieutenant stepped into a small boat and were 
soon alongside the floating emporium. 

A very short inspection sufficed to make them 
aware that both the tartan and her cargo were in 
a perfect state of preservation. In the hold were 
sugar-loaves by hundreds, ehests of tea, bags of 
coffee, hogsheads of tobacco, pipes of wine, casks 
of brandy, barrels of dried herrings, bales of cotton, 
clothing of every kind, shoe3 of all sizes, caps of 
various shape, tools, household utensils, china and 
earthenware, reams of paper, bottles of ink, boxes 
of lucifer matches, blocks of salt, bags of pepper 
and spices, a stock of huge Dutch cheeses, and a col- 
lection of almanacs and miscellaneous literature. 
At a rough guess the value could not be much under 
£5,000 sterling. A new cargo had been taken in 
only a few days before the catastrophe, and it had 
been Isaac Hakkabut 'a intention to cruise from 
Ceuta to Tripoli, calling wherever he had reason to 



44 



AMAZING STORIES 



believe there was likely to be a market for any of 
bis commodities. 

"A fine haul, lieutenant," said the captain. 

"Yes, indeed," said the lieutenant; "but what if 
the owner refuses to part with it?" 

"No fear; no fear," replied the captain. "As soon 
as ever the old rascal finds that there are no more 
Arabs or Algerians for him to fleece, he will be 
ready enough to transact a little business with us. 
We will pay him by bills of acceptance on some of 
his old friends in the Old World." 

"But why should he want any payment?" inquired 
the lieutenant. "Under the circumstances, he must 
know that you have a right to make a requisition 
of his goodB." 

"No, no," quickly rejoined Servadac; "we will 
not do that. Just because the fellow is a German 
we shall not be justified in treating him in German 
fashion. We will transact our business in a busi- 
ness like way. Only let him once realize that he is on 
a new globe, with no prospect of getting back to the 
old one, and he will be ready enough to come to 
terms with us." 

"Perhaps you are right," replied the lieutenant; 
"I hope you are. But anyhow, it will not do to 
leave the tartan here; not only would she be in 
danger in the event of a storm, but it is very ques- 
tionable whether she could resist the pressure of 
the ice, if the water were ■to freeze." 

"Quite true, Procope ; and accordingly I give you 
the commission to see that your erew bring her 
round to the Shelif as soon as may be," 

"To-morrow morning it shall be done," answered 
the lieutenant, promptly. 

Upon returning to the 3hore, it was arranged that 
the whole of the little colony should forthwith ■ 
assemble at the gourbi. The Spaniards were sum- 
moned and Isaac, although he could only with re- 
luctance take his wistful gaze from hi3 tartan, 
obeyed the governor's orders to follow. 

An hour later and the entire population of 
twenty-two had met in the chamber adjoining the 
gourbi. Young Pablo made his first acquaintance 
with little Nina, and the child seemed highly de- 
lighted to find a companion so nearly of her own age. 
Leaving the children to entertain each other, Cap- 
tain Servadac began his address. 

Before entering upon further explanation, he said 
that he counted upon the cordial co-operation of 
them all for the common welfare. 

Negrete interrupted him by declaring that no 
promises or pledges could be given until he and his 
countrymen knew how soon they could be sent back 
to Spain. 

"To Spain, do you say?" asked Servadac. 

"To Spain!" echoed Isaac Hakkabut, with a hide- 
ous yell. "Do they expect to. go back to Spain till 
they have paid their debts? Your Excellency, they 
owe me twenty reals apiece for their passage here; 
they owe me two hundred reals. Are they to be 
allowed . . . ?" 

"Silence Mordecai, you fool!" shouted Ben Zoof, 
who was accustomed to call the Jew by any Hebrew 
name that came uppermost to his memory. 
"Silence!" 

Servadac was disposed to appease the old man's 
anxiety by promising to see that justice was ulti- 
mately done; but, in a fever of frantic excitement, 
he went on to implore jthat he might have the 



loan of a few sailors to carry his ship to Algiers. 

"I will pay you honestly; I will pay you well," 
he cried; but his ingrained propensity for making 
a good bargain prompted him to add, "provided you 
do not overcharge me." 

Ben Zoof wa3 about again to interpose some 
angry exclamation; but Servadac checked him, and 
continued in Spanish: "Listen to me, my friends. 
Something very strange has happened. A most 
wonderful event has cut us off from Spain, from 
France, from Italy, from every country of Europe. 
In fact, we have left the Old World entirely. Of 
the whole earth, nothing remains except this island 
on which you are now taking refuge. The old globe 
is far, far away. Our present abode is but an insig- 
nificant fragment that is left. I dare not tell you 
that there is any chance of your ever again seeing 
your country or your homes," 

He paused. The Spaniards evidently had no con- 
ception of his meaning. 

Negrete begged him to tell them all again. He 
repeated all that he had said, and by introducing 
some illustrations from familiar things, he suc- 
ceeded to a certain extent in conveying some faint 
idea of the convulsion that had happened- The 
event was precisely what he had foretold. The 
communication was received by all alike with the 
most supreme indifference. 

Hakkabut did not say a word. He had listened 
with manifest attention, his lips twitching now and 
then as if suppressing a smile. Servadac turned 
to him, and asked whether he was still disposed to 
put out to sea and make for Algiers. 

The Jew gave a broad grin, which, however, he 
was careful to conceal from the Spaniards. "Your 
Excellency jests," he said in French; and turning 
to Count Timascheff, he added in Russian: "The 
governor has made up a wonderful tale." 

The count turned his back in disgust, while the 
Jew sidled up to little Nina and muttered in Italian. 
"A lot of lies, pretty one; a lot of lies!" 

"Confound the knave!" exclaimed Ben Zoof; "he 
gabbles every tongue under the sun!" 

"Yes," said Servadac; "but whether he speak3 
Freneh, Russian, Spanish, German, or Italian, he 
is neither more nor less than a Jew." 

CHAPTER XX 
A LIGHT ON THE HORIZON 

On the following day, without giving himself any 
further concern about the Jew's incredulity, the 
captain gave orders for the Hansa. to be shifted 
round to the harbor of the Shelif. Hakkabut raised 
no objection, not only because he was aware that 
the move insured the immediate safety of his tar- 
tan, but because he was secretly entertaining the 
hope that he might entice away two or three of 
the Dobryna's crew and make his escape to Algiers 
or some other port. 

Operations now commenced for preparing proper 
winter quarters. Spaniards and Russians alike 
joined heartily in the work, the diminution of at- 
mospheric pressure and of the force of attraction 
contributing such an increase to their muscular 
force as materially facilitated all their labors. 

The first business was to accommodate the build- 
ing adjacent to the gourbi to the wants of the little 
colony. Here for the present the Spaniards were 



OFF ON A COMET 



4S 



lodged, the Russians retaining their berths upon 
the yacht, while the Jew was permitted to pass his 
nights upon the Hansa. This arrangement, how- 
ever, could be only temporary. The time could not 
be far distant when ships' sides and ordinary walls 
would fail to give an adequate protection from the 
severity of the cold that must be expected; the 
stock of fuel was too limited to keep up a permanent 
supply of heat in their present quarters, and conse- 
quently they must be driven to seek some other 
refuge, the internal temperature of which would 
at least be bearable. ' 

The plan that seemed to commend itself most to 
their consideration, was, that they should dig out 
for themselves some subterraneous pits similar to 
"silos," such as are used as receptacles for grain. 
They presumed that when the surface of Gallia 
should be covered by a thick layer of ice, which is 
a bad conductor of heat, a sufficient amount of 
warmth for animal vitality might still be retained 
in excavations of this kind. After a long consulta- 
tion they failed to devise any better expedient, and 
were forced to resign themselves to this species of 
troglodyte existence. 

In one respect they congratulated themselves that 
they should be better off than many of the whalers 
in the polar seas, for as it is impossible to get below 
the surface of a frozen ocean, these adventurers 
have to seek refuge in huts of wood and snow 
erected on their ships, which at best can give but 
slight protection from extreme cold; but here, with 
a solid subsoil, the Gallians might hope to dig down 
a hundred feet or so and secure for themselves 
a shelter that would enable them to brave the 
hardest severity of climate. 

The order, then, was at once given. The work was 
commenced. A stock of shovels, mattocks, and pick- 
axes was brought from the gourbi, and with Ben 
Zoof as overseer, both Spanish majos and Russian 
sailors set to work with a will. 

It was not long, however, before a discovery, more 
unexpected than agreeable, suddenly arrested their 
labors. The spot chosen for the excavation was 
a little to the right of the gourbi, on a slight eleva- 
tion of the soil. For the first day everything went 
on prosperously enough; but at a depth of eight 
feet below the surface, the navvies came in contact 
with a hard surface, upon which all their tools failed 
to make the slightest impression. Servadac and 
the count were at once apprised of the fact, and had 
little difficulty in recognizing the substance that had 
revealed itself as the very same which composed 
the shores as well as the subsoil of the Gallian sea. 
It evidently formed the universal substructure of 
the new asteroid. Means for hollowing it failed them 
utterly. Harder and more resisting than granite, 
it could not be blasted by ordinary powder; dyna- 
mite alone could suffice to rend it. 

The disappointment was very great Unless some 
means of protection were speedily devised, death 
seemed to be staring them in the face. Were the 
figures in the mysterious documents correct? If so, 
Gallia must now be a hundred millions of leagues 
from the sun, nearly three times the distance of 
the earth at the remotest section of her orbit. The 
intensity of the solar light and heat, too, was very 
seriously diminishing, although Gourbi Island (be- 
ing on the equator of an orb which had its axis 
always perpendicular to the plane in which it re- 



volved) enjoyed a position that gave it a permanent 
summer. But no advantage of this kind could com- 
pensate for the remoteness of the sun. The tem- 
perature fell steadily; already, to the discomfiture 
of the little Italian girl, nurtured in sunshine, ice 
was beginning to form in the crevices of the rocks, 
and manifestly the time was impending when the 
sea itself would freeze. 

Some shelter must be found before the tempera- 
ture should fall to 60° below zero. Otherwise death 
was inevitable. Hitherto, for the last few days, the 
thermometer had been registering an average of 
about 6° below zero, and it had become matter of 
experience that the stove, although replenished with 
all the wood that was available, was altogether in- 
adequate to effect any sensible mitigation of the 
severity of the cold. Nor could any amount of fuel 
be enough. It was certain that ere long the very 
mercury and spirit in the thermometers would be 
congealed. Some other resort must assuredly be 
soon found, or they must perish. That was clear. 

The idea of betaking themselves to the Dobryna 
and Hansa could not for a moment be seriously en- 
tertained; not only did the structure of the vessels 
make them utterly insufficient to give substantial 
shelter, but they were totally unfitted to be trusted 
as to their stability when exposed to the enormous 
pressure of the aecummulated ice. 

Neither Servadac, nor the count, nor Lieutenant 
Procope were men to be easily disheartened, but it 
could not be concealed that they felt themselves in 
circumstances by which they were equally harassed 
and perplexed. The sole expedient that their united 
counsel could suggest was to obtain a refuge below 
ground, and that was denied them by the strange 
and impenetrable substratum of the soil ; yet hour 
by hour the sun's disc was lessening in its dimen- 
sions, and although at midday some faint radiance 
and glow were to be distinguished, during the night 
the painfulness of the cold was becoming almost 
intolerable. 

Mounted upon Zephyr and Galette, the captain 
and the count scoured the island in search of some 
available retreat. Scarcely a yard of ground was 
left unexplored, the horses clearing every obstacle 
as if they were, like Pegasus, furnished with wings. 
But all in vain. Soundings were made again and 
again, but invariably with the same result; the 
rock, hard as adamant, never failed to reveal itself 
within a few feet of the surface of the ground. 

The excavation of any silo being thus manifestly 
hopeless, there seemed nothing to be done except 
to try and render the buildings alongside the gourbi 
impervious to frost. To contribute to the supply 
of fuel, orders were given to collect every scrap of 
wood, dry or green, that the island produced; and 
this involved the necessity of felling the numerous 
trees that were scattered over the plain. ' But toil 
as they might at the accumulation of firewood, Cap- 
tain Servadac and his companions could not resist 
the conviction that the consumption of a very short 
period would exhaust the total stock. And what 
would happen then? 

Studious if possible to conceal his real misgiv- 
ings, and anxious that the rest of the party should 
be affected as little 33 might be by his own un- 
easiness, Servadac would wander alone about the 
island, racking hi.i brain for an idea that would 



46 



AMAZING STORIES 



point the way out of the serious difficulty. But 
still all in vain. 

One day he suddenly came upon Ben Zoof, and 
asked him whether he had no plan to propose. The 
orderly shook his head, but after a few moments' 
pondering, said: "Ah! master, if only we were at 
Montmartre, we would get shelter in the charming 
stone- quarries." 

"Idiot!" replied the captain, angrily, "if we were 
at Montmartre, you don't suppose that we should 
need to live in stone-quarries?" 

But the means of preservation which human in- 
genuity had failed to secure were at hand from the 
felicitous provision of Nature herself. It was on 
the 10th of March that the captain and Lieutenant 
Procope started off once more to investigate the 
northwest corner of the island ; on their way their 
conversation naturally was engrossed by the subject 
of the dire necessities which only too manifestly 
were awaiting them. A discussion more than usu- 
ally animated arose between them, for the two men 
were not altogether of the same mind as to the 
measures that ought to be adopted in order to open 
the fairest chance of avoiding a fatal climax to 
their exposure; the captain persisted that an en- 
tirely new abode must be sought, while the lieu- 
tenant was equally bent upon devising a method of 
some sort by which their present quarters might 
be rendered sufficiently warm. All at once, in the 
very heat of his argument, Procope paused; he 
passed his hand across his eyes, as if to dispel a 
mist, and stood, with a fixed gaze centered on a 
point towards the south. "What is that?" he said, 
with a kind of hesitation. "No, I am not mistaken," 
he added; "it is a light on the horizon." 

"A light!" exclaimed Servadae; "show me where." 

"Look there!" answered the lieutenant, and he 
kept pointing steadily in its direction, until Ser- 
vadae also distinctly saw the bright speck in the 
distance. 

It increased in clearness in the gathering shades 
of evening. "Can it be a ship?" asked the captain. 

"If so, it must be in flames; otherwise we should 
not be able to see it so far off," replied Procope. 

"It does not move," said Servadae;" and unless 
I am greatly deceived, I can hear a kind of rever- 
beration in the air." 

For some seconds the two men stood straining 
eyes and ears in rapt attention. Suddenly an idea 
struck Servadac's mind. "The volcano!" he cried; 
"may it not be the volcano that we saw, whilst we 
were on board the Dobryna?" 

The lieutenant agreed that it was very probable. 

"Heaven be praised!" ejaculated the captain, and 
he went on in the tones of a keen excitement: "Na- 
ture has provided us with our winter quarters ; the 
stream of burning lava that is flowing there is the 
gift of a bounteous Providence; it will provide us 
all the warmth we need. No time to lose! To- 
morrow, my dear Procope, to-morrow we will ex- 
plore it all; no doubt the life, the heat we want 
is reserved for us in the heart and bowels of our 
own Gallia!" 

Whilst the captain was indulging in his expres- 
sions of enthusiasm, Procope was endeavoring to 
collect his thoughts. Distinctly he remembered the 
long promontory which had barred the Dobryna'a 
progress while coasting the southern confines of the 
sea, and which had obliged her to ascend north- 



wards as far as the former latitude of Oran; he 
remembered also that at the extremity of the pro- 
montory there was a rocky headland crowned with 
smoke; and now he was convinced that he was right 
in identifying the position, and in believing that 
the smoke had given place to an eruption of flame. 

When Servadae gave him a chance of speaking, 
he said, "The more I consider it, captain, the more 
I am satisfied that your conjecture is correct. Be- 
yond a doubt, what we see is the volcano, and to- 
morrow we will not fail to visit it." 

On returning to the gourbi, they communicated 
their discovery to Count Timaschefl only, deeming 
any further publication of it to be premature. The 
count at once placed his yacht at their disposal, and 
expressed his intention of accompanying'them. 

"The yacht, I think," said Procope, "had better 
remain where she is; the weather is beautifully 
calm, and the steam-launch will answer our purpose 
better; at any rate, it will convey us much closer to 
shore than the schooner." 

The count replied that the lieutenant was by all 
means to use his own discretion, and they all retired 
for the night. 

Like many other modern pleasure-yachts, the 
Dobryna, in addition to her four-oar, was fitted with 
a fast-going little steam-launch, its screw being pro- 
pelled, on the Orioile system, by mean of a boiler, 
small but very effective. Early next morning, this 
handy little craft was sufficiently freighted with 
coal (of which there wa3 still about ten tons on 
board the Dobryna) , and manned by nobody except 
the captain, the count, and the lieutenant, left the 
harbor of the Shelif, much to the bewilderment of 
Ben Zoof, who had not yet been admitted into the 
secret. The orderly, however, consoled himself with 
the reflection that he had been temporarily invested 
with the full powers of governor general, an office 
of which he was not a little proud. 

The eighteen miles between the island and the 
headland were made in something less than three 
hours. The volcanic eruption was manifestly very 
considerable, the entire summit of the promontory 
being enveloped in flames. To produce so large a 
combustion either the oxygen of Gallia's atmosphere 
had been brought into contact with the explosive 
gases contained beneath her soil, or perhaps, still 
more probable, the volcano, like those in the moon, 
was fed by an internal supply of oxygen of her own. 

It took more than half an hour to settle on a 
suitable landing-place. At length, a small semi- 
circular creek was discovered among the rocks, 
which appeared advantageous, because, if circum- 
stances should so require, it would form a safe an- 
chorage for both the Dobryna and the Hansa. 

The launch securely moored, the passengers 
landed on the side of the promontory opposite to 
that on which a torrent of flaming lava was de- 
scending to the sea. With much satisfaction they 
experienced, as they approached the mountain, a 
sensible difference in the temperature, and their 
spirits could not do otherwise than rise at the pros- 
pect of having their hopes confirmed, that a deliv- 
erance from the threatened calamity had so oppor- 
tunely been found. On they went, up the steep 
acclivity, scrambling over its rugged projections, 
scaling the irregularities of its gigantic strata, 
bounding from point to point with the agility of 
chamois, but never alighting on anything except 



OFF ON A COMET 



47 



the accumulation of the -same hexagonal prisms 
with which they had now become so familiar. 

Their exertions were happily rewarded. Behind 
a huge pyramid rock they found a hole in the 
mountain-side, like the mouth of a great tunnel. 
Climbing up to this orifice, which was more than' 
sixty feet above the level of the sea, they ascertained 
that it opened into a long dark gallery. They entered 
and groped their way cautiously along the sides. 
A continuous rumbling, that increased as they ad- 
vanced, made them aware that they must be ap- 
proaching the central funnel of the volcano; their 
only fear was lest some insuperable wall of rock 
should suddenly bar their further progress. 

Servadac was some distance ahead. 

"Come on!" he cried cheerily, his voice ringing 
through the darkness, "come on ! Our fire is lighted ! 
no stint of fuel! Nature provides that! Let us 
make haste and warm ourselves!" 

Inspired by his confidence, the count and the lieu- 
tenant advanced bravely along the unseen and wind- 
ing path. The temperature was now at least fifteen 
degrees above zero, and the walls of the gallery were 
beginning to feel quite warm to the touch, an indi- 
cation, not to be overlooked, that the substance of 
which the rock was composed was metallic in its 
nature, and capable of conducting heat. 

"Follow me!" shouted Servadac again; "we shall 
soon find a regular stove!" 

Onwards they made their way, until at last a 
sharp turn brought them into a sudden flood of 
light. The tunnel had opened into a vast cavern, 
and the gloom was exchanged for an illumination 
that was perfectly dazzling. Although the tem- 
perature was high, it was not in any way intoler- 
able. 

One glance was sufficient to satisfy the explorers 
that the grateful light and heat of this huge excava- 
tion were to be attributed to a torrent of lava that 
was rolling downwards to the sea, completely sub- 
tending the aperture of the cave. Not inaptly might 
the scene be compared to the celebrated Grotto of 
the Winds at the rear of the central fall of Niagara, 
only with the exception that here, instead of a cur- 
tain of rushing water, it was a curtain of roaring 
flame that hung before the cavern's mouth. 

"Heaven be praised!" cried Servadac, with glad 
emotion; "here is all that we hoped for, and more 



CHAPTER XXI 
WINTER QUARTERS 

The habitation that had now revealed itself, well 
lighted and thoroughly warm, was indeed marvel- 
ous. Not only would it afford ample accommodation 
for Hector Servadac and "his subjects," as Ben 
Zoof delighted to call them, but it would provide 
shelter for the two horses, and for a considerable 
number of domestic animals. 

This enormous cavern was neither more or less 
than the common junction of nearly twenty tunnels 
I similar to that which had been traversed by the 
explorers) , forming ramifications in the solid rock, 
and the pores, as it were, by which the internal 
heat exuded from the heart of the mountain. Here, 
as long as the volcano retained its activity, every 
'iving creature on the new asteroid might brave the 
most rigorous of climates ; and as Count Timascheff 



j ustly remarked, since it was the only burning moun- 
tain they had sighted, it was most probably the sole 
outlet for Gallia's subterranean fires, and conse- 
quently the eruption might continue unchanged for 
ages to come. 

But not a day, not an hour, was to be lost now. 
The steam-launch returned to Gourbi Island, and 
preparations were forthwith taken in hand for con- 
veying man and beast, corn and fodder, across to the 
volcanic headland. Loud and hearty were the accla- 
mations of the little colony, especially of the 
Spaniards, and great was the relief of Nina, when 
Servadac announced to them the discovery of their 
future domicile; and with requickened energies they 
labored hard at packing, anxious to reach their 
genial winter quarters without delay. 

For three successive days the Dobryna, laden to 
her very gunwale, made a transit to and fro. Ben 
Zoof was left upon the island to superintend the 
stowage of the freight, whilst Servadac found abun- 
dant occupation in overlooking its disposal within 
the recesses of the mountain. First of all, the large 
store of corn and fodder, the produce of the recent 
harvest, was landed and deposited in one of the 
vaults, then, on the 15th, about fifty head of live 
cattle — bullocks, cows, sheep, and pigs — were con- 
veyed to their rocky stalls. These were saved for 
the sake of preserving' the several breeds, the bulk 
of the island cattle being slaughtered, as the ex- 
treme severity of the climate insured all meat re- 
maining fresh for almost an indefinite period. The 
winter which they were expecting would probably 
be of unprecedented length; it was quite likely that 
it would exceed the six months' duration by which 
many arctic explorers have been tried; but the popu- 
lation of Gallia had no anxiety in the matter of 
provisions — their stock was far more than ade- 
quate; while as for drink, as long as they were satis- 
fied with pure water, a frozen sea would afford them 
an inexhaustible reservoir. 

The need for haste in forwarding their prepara- 
tions became more and more manifest; the sea 
threatened to be unnavigable very soon, as ice was 
already forming which the noonday sun was unable 
to melt. And if haste were necessary, so also were 
care, ingenuity, and forethought. It was indis- 
pensable that the space at their command should be 
properly utilized, and yet that the several portions 
of the store should all be readily accessible. 

On further investigation an unexpected number 
of galleries was discovered, so that, in fact, the 
interior of the mountain was like a vast bee-hive 
perforated with innumerable cells; and in compli- 
ment to the little Italian it was unanimously voted 
by the colony that their new home should be called 
"Nina's Hive." 

The first care of Captain Servadac was to ascer- 
tain how he could make the best possible use of 
the heat which nature had provided for them so 
opportunely and with so lavish a hand. By opening 
fresh vents in the solid rock (which by the action 
of the heat was here capable of fissure) the stream 
of burning lava was diverted into several new chan- 
nels, where it could be available for daily use; and 
thus Mochel, the Dobryna's cook, was furnished 
with an admirable kitchen, provided with a perman- 
ent stove, where he was duly installed with all hi? 
culinary apparatus. 

"What a saving of expense it would be," ex- 



48 



AMAZING STORIES 



claimed Ben Zoof, "if every household could be 
furnished with its own private volcano!" 

The large cavern at the general junction of the 
galleries was fitted up as a drawing-room, and ar- 
ranged with all the best furniture both of the gourbi 
and of the cabin of the Dobryna. Hither was also 
brought the shooner's library, containing a good 
variety of French and Russian books; lamps were 
suspended over the different tables; and the walls 
of the apartment were tapestried with the sails and 
adorned with the flags belonging to the yacht. The 
curtain of fire extending over the opening of the 
cavern provided it, as already stated, with light and 
heat. 

The torrent of lava fell into a small rock-bound 
basin that had no apparent communication with 
the sea, and was evidently the aperture of a deep 
abyss, of which the waters, heated by the descent of 
the eruptive matter, would no doubt retain their 
liquid condition long after the Gallian Sea had be- 
come a sheet of ice. 

A small excavation to the left of the common hall 
was allotted for the special use of Servadac and the 
count; another on the right was appropriated to the 
lieutenant and Ben Zoof; whilst a third recess, im- 
mediately at the back, made a convenient little 
chamber for Nina. The Spaniards and the Russian 
sailors took up their sleeping-quarters in the ad- 
jacent galleries, and found the temperature quite 
comfortable. 

Such were the internal arrangements of Nina's 
Hive, the refuge where the little colony were full 
of hope that they would be able to brave the rigors 
of the stern winter-time that lay before them — a 
winter-time during which Gallia might possibly be 
projected even to the orbit of Jupiter, where the 
temperature would not exceed one twenty-fifth of 
the normal winter temperature of the earth. 

The only discontented spirit was Isaac' Hakka- 
but. Throughout all the preparations which roused 
even the Spaniards to activity, the Jew, still in- 
credulous and deaf to every representation of the 
true state of things, insisted upon remaining in 
the creek at Gourbi Island; nothing could induce 
him to leave his tartan, where, like a miser, he 
would keep guard over his precious cargo, ever 
grumbling and growling, but with his weather-eye 
open in the hope of catching sight of some passing 
sail. It must be owned that the whole party were 
far from sorry to be relieved of his presence; his 
uncomely figure and repulsive countenance was a 
perpetual bugbear. He had given out in plain 
terms that he did not intend to part with any of his 
property, except for current money; and Servadac, 
equally resolute, had strictly forbidden any pur- 
chases to be made, hoping to wear out the rascal's 
obstinacy. 

Hakkabut persistently refused to credit the real 
situation; he could not absolutely deny that 3ome 
portions of the terrestrial globe had undergone a 
certain degree of modification, but nothing could 
bring him to believe that he was not, sooner or 
later, to resume his old line of business in the Med- 
iterranean. With his wonted distrust of all with 
whom he came in contact, he regarded every argu- 
ment that was urged upon him only as evidence of a 
plot that had been devised to deprive him of his 
goods. Repudiating, as he did utterly, the hypo- 
thesis that a fragment had beome detached from 



the earth, he scanned the horizon for hours to- 
gether with an old telescope, the case of which had 
been patched up till it looked like a rusty stove-pipe, 
hoping to descry the passing trader with which he 
might effect some bartering jpon advantageous 
terms. 

At first he professed to regard the proposed re- 
moval into winter-quarters as an attempt to impose 
upon his credulity; but the frequent voyages made 
by the Dobryna to the south, and the repeated con- 
signments of corn and cattle, soon served to make 
him aware that Captain Servadac and his compan- 
ions were really contemplating a departure from 
Gourbi Island. 

The movement set him thinking. What, he be- 
gan to ask himself — what if all that was told him 
was true? What if this sea was no longer the 
Mediterranean? What if he should never again 
behold his German fatherland? What if his marts 
for business were gone for ever? A vague idea 
of ruin began to take possession of his mind: he 
must yield to necessity; he must do the best he 
could. As the result of his cogitations, he occa- 
sionally left his tartan and made a visit to the 
shore. At length he endeavored to mingle with 
the busy group, who were hurrying on their prep- 
arations; but his advances were only met by jeers 
and scorn, and, ridiculed by all the rest, he was fain 
to turn his attention to Ben Zoof, to whom he of- 
fered a few pinches of tobacco. 

"No, old Zebulon," said Ben Zoof, steadily re- 
fusing the gift, "it is against orders to take any- 
thing from you. Keep your cargo to yourself ; eat 
and drink it all if you can; we are not to touch it." 

Finding the subordinates incorruptible, Isaac de- 
termined to go to the fountain-head. He addressed 
himself to Servadac, and begged him to tell him the 
whole truth, piteously adding that surely it was 
unworthy of a French officer to deceive a poor old 
man like himself. 

"Tell you the truth, man !" cried Servadac. "Con- 
found it, I have told you the truth twenty times. 
Once for all, I tell you now, you have left yourself 
barely time enough to make your escape to yonder 
mountain." 

"God and Mahomet have mercy on me!" muttered 
the Jew, whose creed frequently assumed a very 
ambiguous character. 

"I will tell you what," continued the captain — 
"you shall have a few men to work the Hansa 
across, if you like." 

"But I want to go to Algiers," whispered Hak- 
kabut. 

"How often am I to tell you that Algiers i3 no 
longer in existence ? Only say yes or no — are you 
coming with us into winter-quarters?" 

"God of Israel! what is to become of all my 
property ?" 

"But, mind you," continued the captain, not heed- 
ing the interruption, "if you do not choose volun- 
tarily to come with us, I shall have the Hansa, by 
my orders, removed to a place of safety. I am not 
going to let your cursed obstinancy incur the risk 
of losing your cargo altogether." 

"Merciful Heaven! I shall be ruined!" moaned 
Isaac, in despair. 

"You are going the right way to ruin yourself 
and it would serve you right to leave you to your 
own devices. But be off! I have no more to say." 



OFF ON A COMET 



49 



Anil, turning contemptuously on his heel, Ser- 
vadac left the old man vociferating bitterly, and 
with uplifted hands protesting vehemently against 
the rapacity of the Gentiles. 

By the 20th all preliminary arrangements were 
complete, and everything ready for a final departure 
from the island. The thermometer stood on an 
average at 8° below zero, and the water in the cis- 
tern was completely frozen. It was determined, 
therefore, for the colony to embark on the following 
day, and take up their residence in Nina's Hive. 

A final consultation was held about the Hansa. 
Lieutenant Proeope pronounced his decided convic- 
tion that it would be impossible for the tartan to 
resist the pressure of the ice in the harbor of the 
Shelif, and that there would be far more safety in 
the proximity of the volcano. It was agreed on 
nil hands that the vessel must be shifted; and ac- 
cordingly orders were given, four Russian sailors 
were sent on board, and only a few minutes elapsed 
after the Dobryna had weighed anchor, before the 
great lateen sail "of the tartan was unfurled, and 
the "shop-ship," as Ben Zoof delighted to call it, 
was also on her way to the southward. 

Long and loud were the lamentations of the Jew. 
He kept exclaiming that he had given no orders, 
that he was being moved against his will, that he 
had asked for no assistance, and needed none; but 
it required no very keen discrimination to observe 
that all along there was a lurking gleam of satis- 
faction in his little gray eyes, and when, a few 
hours later, he found himself securely anchored, 
and his property in a place of safety, he quite 
chuckled with glee. 

"God of Israel!" he said in an undertone, "they 
have made' no charge; the idiots have piloted me 
here for nothing." 

For nothing! His whole nature exulted in the 
consciousness that he was enjoying a service that 
had been rendered gratuitously. 

Destitute of human inhabitants, Gourbi Island 
was now left to the tenancy of such birds and 
beasts as had escaped the recent promiscuous 
slaughter. Birds, indeed, that had migrated in 
search of warmer shores, had returned, proving 
that this fragment of the French colony was the 
only shred of land that could yield them any sus- 
tenance; but their life must necessarily be short. 
It was utterly impossible that they could survive 
the cold that would soon ensue. 

The colony took possession of their new abode 
with but few formalities. Everyone, however, ap- 
proved of all the internal arrangements of Nina's 
Hiye, and were profuse in their expressions of 
satisfaction at finding themselves located in such 
comfortable quarters. The only malcontent was 
Hakkabut; he had no share in the general enthusi- 
asm, refused even to enter or inspect any of the 
galleries, and insisted on remaining on board his 
tartan. 

"He is afraid," said Ben Zoof, "that he will have 
to pay for his lodgings. But wait a bit; we shall 
see how he stands the cold out there; the frost, no 
doubt, will drive the old fox out of his hole." 

Towards evening the pots were set boiling, and 
a bountiful supper, to which all were invited, was 
spread in the central hall. The stores of the Dob- 
ryna contained some excellent wine, some of which 
was broached to do honor to the occasion. The 



health of the governor general was drunk, as well 
as the toast "Success to his council," to which Ben 
Zoof was called upon to return thanks. The enter- 
tainment passed off merrily. The Spaniards were 
in the best of spirits ; one of them played the guitar, 
another the castanets, and the rest joined in a ring- 
ing chorus. Ben Zoof contributed the famous Zouave 
refrain, well known throughout the French army, 
but rarely performed in finer style than by this 
virtuoso : 

'"Misti goth dar dar tire lyre! 
Flic! floe! flac! lirette, lira! ' 

Far la rira, 
Tour tola tire, 
Tour la Riband, 
Ricandeau, 
Sans repos, repit, repit, repos, ris pot, Hpette! 
Si vous attrapez mon refrain, 
Fameux vous et&s," 

The concert was succeeded by a ball, unquestion- 
ably the first that had ever taken place in Gallia. 
The Russian sailors exhibited some of their na- 
tional dances, which gained considerable applause, 
even though they followed upon the marvelous 
fandangos of the Spaniards. Ben Zoof, in his turn, 
danced a pas seul (often performed in the Elysee 
Montmartre) with an elegance and vigor that 
earned many compliments from Negrete. 

It was nine o'clock before the festivities came to 
an end, and by that time the company, heated by 
the high temperature of the hall, and by their own 
exertions, felt the want of a little fresh air. Ac- 
cordingly the greater portion of the party, escorted 
by Ben Zoof, made their way into one of the ad- 
jacent galleries that led to the shore. Servadac, 
with the count and lieutenant, did not follow im- 
mediately; but shortly afterwards they proceeded to 
join them, when on their way they were startled by 
loud cries from those in advance. 

Their first impression was that they were cries 
of distress, and they were greatly relieved to find 
that they were shouts of delight, which the dryness 
and purity of the atmosphere caused to re-echo like 
a volley of musketry. 

Reaching the mouth of the gallery, they found 
the entire group pointing with eager interest to the 
sky. 

"Well, Ben Zoof," asked the captain, "what's the 
matter now?" 

"Oh, your Excellency," ejaculated the orderly, 
"look there! look there! The moon! the moon's 
come back!" 

And, sure enough, what was apparently the moon 
was rising above the mists of evening. 

CHAPTER XXII 

A FROZEN OCEAN 

THE moon! She had disappeared for weeks; was 
she now returning? Had she been faithless to the 
earth? and had she now approached to be a satellite 
of the new-born world? 

"Impossible!" said Lieutenant Proeope; "the 
earth is millions and millions of leagues away, and 
it is not probable that the moon has ceased to re- 
volve about her." 

"Why not?" remonstrated Servadac. "It would 
not be more strange than the other phenomena 
which we have lately witnessed. Why should not 



so 



AMAZING STORIES 



the moon have fallen within the limits of Gallia's 
attraction, and become her Bateilite?" 

"Upon that supposition," put in the count, "I 
should think that it would be altogether unlikely 
that three months would elapse without our seeing 
her." 

"Quite incredible!" continued Procope. "And 
there i3 another thing which totally disproves the 
captain's hypothesis; the magnitude of Gallia is far 
too insignificant for her power of attraction to 
carry off the moon." 

"But," persisted Servadac, "why should not the 
same convulsion that tore us away from the earth 
have torn away the moon as well? After wander- 
ing about as she would for a while in the solar 
regions, I do not see why she should no't have at- 
tached herself to us." 

The lieutenant repeated his conviction that it 
was not likely. 

"But why not?" again asked Servadac impetu- 
ously. 

"Because, I tell you, the mass of Gallia is so 
inferior to that of the moon, that Gallia would be- 
come the moon's satellite; the moon could not possi- 
bly become hers." 

"Assuming, however," continued Servadac, "such 
to be the case " 

"I am afraid," said the lieutenant, interrupting 
him, "that I cannot assume anything of the sort 
even for a moment." 

Servadac smiled go od-humo redly. 

"I confess you seem to have the best of the argu- 
ment, and if Gallia had become a satellite of the 
moon, it would not have taken three months to 
catch sight of her. I suppose you are right." 

While this discussion had been going on, the 
satellite, or whatever it might be, had been rising 
steadily above the horizon, and had reached a posi- 
tion favorable for observation. Telescopes were 
brought, and it was very soon ascertained, beyond 
a question, that the new luminary was not the well- 
known Phcebe of terrestrial nights; it had no fea- 
ture in common with the moon. Although it was 
apparently much nearer to Gallia than the moon to 
the earth, its superficies was hardly one-tenth as 
large, and so feebly did it reflect the light of the 
remote sun, that it scarcely emitted radiance enough 
to extinguish the dim luster of stars of the eighth 
magnitude. Like the sun, it had risen in the west, 
and was now at its full. To confuse its identity 
with the moon was absolutely impossible; not even 
Servadac could discover a trace of the seas, chasms, 
craters, and mountains which have been so minutely 
delineated in lunar charts; and it could not be de- 
nied that any transient hope that had been excited 
us to their once again being about to enjoy the 
peaceful smiles of "the queen of night" must all 
be given up. 

Count Timascheff finally suggested, though some- 
what doubtfully, the question of the probability that 
Gallia, in her course across the zone of the minor 
planets, had carried off one of them; but whether 
it was one of the 169 asteroids already included 
in the astronomical catalogues, or one previously 
unknown, he did not presume to determine. The 
idea to a certain extent was plausible, inasmuch as 
it has been ascertained that several of the telescopic 
planets are of such small dimensions that a good 
walker might make a circuit of them in four and 



twenty hours; consequently Gallia, being of superi- 
or volume, might be supposed capable of exercising 
a power of attraction upon any of these miniature 
microcosms. 

The first night in Nina's Hive passed without 
special incident; and next morning a regular scheme 
of life was definitely laid down. "My lord gov- 
ernor," as Ben Zoof, until he was peremptorily for- 
bidden, delighted to call Servadac, had a wholesome 
dread of idleness and its consequences, and insisted 
upon each member of the party undertaking some 
special duty to fulfill. There was plenty to do. The 
domestic animals required a great deal of attention; 
a supply of food had to be secured and preserved; 
fishing had to be carried on while the condition 
of the sea would allow it; and in several places the 
galleries had to be further excavated to render 
them more available for use. Occupation, then, 
need never be wanting, and the daily round of labor 
could go on in orderly routine. 

A perfect concord ruled the little colony. The 
Russians and Spaniards amalgamated well, and both 
did their best to pick up various scraps of French, 
which was considered the official language of the 
place. Servadac himself undertook the tuition of 
Pablo and Nina, Ben Zoof being their companion 
in play-hours, when he entertained them with en- 
chanting stories in the best Parisian French, about 
"a lovely city at the foot of a mountain," where he 
always promised one day to take them. 

The end of March came, but the cold was not 
intense to such a degree as to confine any of the 
party to the interior of their resort; several excur- 
sions were made along the shore, and for a radius 
of three or four miles the adjacent district was 
carefully explored. Investigation, however, always 
ended in the same result; turn their course in what- 
ever direction they would, they found that the 
country retained everywhere its desert character, 
rocky, barren, and without a trace of vegetation. 
Here and there a slight layer of snow or a thin 
coating of ice arising from atmospheric condensa- 
tion indicated the existence of superficial moisture, 
but it would require a period indefinitely long, ex- 
ceeding human reckoning, before that moisture 
could collect into a stream and roll downwards over 
the stony strata to the sea. It seemed at present 
out of their power to determine whether the land 
upon which they were so happily settled was an 
island or a continent, and till the cold was abated 
they feared to undertake any lengthened expedition 
to ascertain the actual extent of the strange con- 
crete of metallic crystallization. 

By ascending one day to the summit of the vol- 
cano. Captain Servadac and the count succeeded in 
getting a general idea of the aspect of the country. 
The mountain itself was an enormous block rising 
symmetrically to a height of nearly 3,000 feet above 
the level of the sea, in the form of a truncated cone, 
of which the topmost section was crowned by a 
wreath of smoke issuing continuously from the 
mouth of a narrow crater. 

Under the old condition of terrestrial things, the 
ascent of this steep acclivity would have been at- 
tended with much fatigue, but as the effect of the 
altered condition of the law of gravity, the travelers 
performed perpetual prodigies in the way of agility, 
and in little over an hour reached the edge of the 
crater, without more sense of exertion than if they 



OFF ON A COMET 



SI 



had traversed a couple of miles on level ground. 
Gallia had its drawbacks, but it had some com- 
pensating advantages. 

Telescopes in hand, the explorers from the sum- 
mit scanned the surrounding view. Their anticipa- 
tions had already realized what they saw. Just as 
they expected, on the north, east, and west lay the 
Gallian Sea, smoothed and motionless as a sheet 
of glass, the cold having, as it were, congealed the 
atmosphere so that there was not a breath of wind. 
Towards the south there seemed no limit to the 
land, and the volcano formed the apex of a triangle, 
of which the base was beyond the reach of vision. 
Viewed even from this height, whence distance 
would do much to soften the general asperity, the 
surface nevertheless seemed to be bristling with its 
myriads of hexagonal lamellte, and to present diffi- 
culties which, to an ordinary pedestrian, would be 
insurmountable. 

"Oh for some wings, or else a balloon!" cried 
Servadac, as he gazed around him; and then, look- 
ing down to the rock upon which they were stand- 
ing, he added, "We seem to have been transplanted 
to a soil strange enough in its chemical character 
to bewilder the savants of a museum.' 

"And do you observe, captain," asked the count, 
"how the convexity of our little world curtails our 
view? See, how circumscribed is the horizon!" 

Servadac replied that he had noticed the same 
circumstance from the top of the cliffs of Gourbi 
Island. 

"Yes," said the count; "it becomes more and 
more obvious that ours is a very tiny world, and 
that Gourbi Island is the sole productive spot upon 
its surface. We have had a short summer, and 
who knows whether we are not entering upon a 
winter that may last for years, perhaps for cen- 
turies?" 

"But we must not mind, count," said Servadac, 
smiling. "We have agreed, you know, that, come 
what may, we are to be philosophers." 

"Ay, true, my friend," rejoined the count; "we 
must be philosophers and something more ; we must 
be grateful to the good Protector who has hitherto 
befriended us, and we must trust His mercy to the 
end." 

For a few moments they both stood in silence, 
and contemplated land and sea; then, having given 
a last glance over the dreary panorama, they pre- 
pared to wend their way down the mountain. Be- 
fore they commenced their descent, however, they 
resolved to make a closer examination of the crater. 
They were particularly struck by what seemed to 
them almost the mysterious calmness with which 
the eruption was effected. There was none of the 
wild disorder and deafening tumult that usually 
accompany the discharge of volcanic matter, but 
the heated lava, rising with a uniform gentleness, 
quietly overran the limits of the crater, like the 
flow of water from the bosom of a peaceful lake. 
Instead of a boiler exposed to the action of an angry 
fire, the crater rather resembled a brimming basin, 
of which the contents were noiselessly escaping. 
Nor were there any igneous stones or red-hot cin- 
ders mingled with the smoke that crowned the sum- 
mit; a circumstance that quite accorded with the 
absence of the pumice-stones, obsidians, and other 
minerals of volcanic origin with which the base of 
a burning mountain is generally strewn. 



Captain Servadac was of opinion that this pecu- 
liarity augured favorably for the continuance of 
the eruption. Extreme violence in physical, as well 
as in moral nature, is never of long duration. The 
most terrible storms, like the mo3t violent fits of 
passion, are not lasting; but here the calm flow 
of the liquid fire appeared to be supplied from a 
source that was inexhaustible, in the same way 
as the waters of Niagara, gliding on steadily to 
their final plunge, would defy all effort to arrest 
their course. 

Before the evening of this day closed in, a most 
important change wa3 effected in the condition of 
the Gallian Sea by the intervention of human 
agency. Notwithstanding the increasing cold, the 
sea, unruffled as it was by a breath of wind, still 
retained its liquid state. It is an established fact 
that water, under this condition of absolute still- 
ness, will remain uncongealed at a temperature 
several degrees below zero, whilst experiment, at 
the same time, shows that a very slight shock will 
often be sufficient to convert it into solid ice. 

It had occurred to Servadac that if some com- 
munication could be opened with Gourbi Island, 
there would be a fine scope for hunting expeditions. 
Having this ultimate object in view, he assembled 
his little colony upon a projecting rock at the ex- 
tremity of the promontory, and having called Nina 
and Pablo out to him in front, he said : "Now, Nina, 
do you think you could throw something into the 
sea?" 

"I think I could," replied the child, "but I am sure 
that Pablo would throw it a great deal further than 
I can." 

"Never mind, you shall try first." 

Putting a fragment of ice into Nina's hand, he 
addressed himself to Pablo: 

"Look out, Pablo ; you shall see what a nice little 
fairy Nina is! Throw, Nina, throw, aa hard as 
you can." 

Nina balanced the piea? of ice two or three times 
in her hand, and threw it forward with all her 
strength. 

A sudden thrill seemed to vibrate across the mo- 
tionless waters to the distant horizon, and the Gal- 
lian Sea had become a solid sheet of ice! 

CHAPTER XXIII 
A CARRIER-PIGEON 

When, three hours after sunset, on the 23rd of 
March, the Gallian moon rose upon the western 
horizon, it was observed that she had entered upon 
her last quarter. She had taken only four day3 to 
pass from syzygy to quadrature, and it was conse- 
quently evident that she would be visible for little 
more than a week at a time, and that her lunation 
would be accomplished within sixteen days. The 
lunar months, like the solar days, had been dimin- 
ished by one-half. Three days later the moon was 
in conjunction with the sun, and was consequently 
lost to view; Ben Zoof, as the first observer of the 
satellite, was extremely interested in its movements, 
and wondered whether it would ever reappear. 

On the 26th, under an atmosphere perfectly clear 
and dry, the thermometer fell to 12" C. below zero. 
Of the present distance of Gallia from the sun, and 
the number of leagues she had traversed since the 
receipt of the last mysterious document, there were 



52 



AMAZING STORIES 



no means of judging; the extent of diminution in 
the apparent disc of the sun did not afford sufficient 
basis even for an approximate calculation; and 
Captain Servadac was perpetually regretting that 
they could receive no further tidings from the an- 
onymous correspondent, whom he persisted in re- 
garding as a fellow-countryman. 

The solidity of the ice was perfect; the utter 
stillness of the air at the time when the final con- 
gelation of the waters had taken place had resulted 
in the formation of a surface that for smoothness 
would rival a skating-rink; without a crack or flaw 
it extended far beyond the range of vision. 

The contrast to the ordinary aspect of polar seas 
was very remarkable. There, the ice-fields are an 
agglomeration of hummocks and icebergs, massed 
in wild confusion, often towering higher than the 
masts of the largest whalers, and from the instabil- 
ity of their foundations liable to an instantaneous 
loss of equilibrium; a breath of wind, a slight modi- 
fication of the temperature, not infrequently serv- 
ing to bring about a series of changes outrivaling 
the most elaborate transformation scenes of a pan- 
tomime. Here, on the contrary, the vast white 
plain was level as the desert of Sahara or the Rus- 
sian steppes; the waters of the Gallian Sea were 
imprisoned beneath the solid sheet, which became 
continually thicker in the increasing cold. 

Accustomed to the uneven crystallizations of their 
own frozen seas, the Russians could not be other- 
wise than delighted with the polished surface that 
afforded them such excellent opportunity for en- 
joying their favorite pastime of skating. A supply 
of skates, found hidden away amongst the Dob- 
ryna'a stores, was speedily brought into use. The 
Russians undertook the instruction of the Span- 
iards, and at the end of a few days, during which 
the temperature was only endurable through the 
absence of wind, there was not a Gallian who could 
not skate tolerably well, while many of them could 
describe figures involving the most complicated 
curves. Nina and Pablo earned loud applause by 
their rapid proficiency; Captain Servadac, an adept 
in athletics, almost outvied his instructor, the 
count; and Ben Zoof, who had upon some rare occa- 
sions skated upon the Lake of Montmartre (in his 
eyes, of course, a sea), performed prodigies in the 
art. 

This exercise was not only healthful in itself, but 
it was acknowledged that, in ease of necessity, it 
might become a very useful means of locomotion. 
As Captain Servadac remarked, it was almost a 
substitute for railways, and as if to illustrate this 
proposition, Lieutenant Procope, perhaps the great- 
est expert in the party, amimplished the twenty 
miles to Gourbi Island aud back in considerably less 
than four hours. 

The temperature, meanwhile, continued to de- 
crease, and the average reading of the thermometer 
was about 16" C. below zero; the light also dimin- 
ished in proportion, and all objects appeared to be 
enveloped in a half-defined shadow, as though the 
sun were undergoing a perpetual eclipse. It was 
not surprising that the effect of this continuously 
overhanging gloom should be to induce a frequent 
depression of spirits amongst the majority of the 
little population, exiles as they were from their 
mother earth, and not unlikely, as it seemed, to be 
swept far away into the regions of another planet- 



ary sphere. Probably Count Timascheff, Captain 
Servadac, and Lieutenant Procope were the only 
members of the community who could bring any 
scientific judgment to bear upon the uncertainty 
that was before them, but a general sense of the 
strangeness of their situation could not fail at 
times to weigh heavily upon the minds of all. 
Under these circumstances it was very necessary 
to counteract the tendency to despond by continual 
diversion; and the recreation of skating thus op- 
portunely provided, seemed just the thing to arouse 
the flagging spirits, and to restore a wholesome 
excitement. 

With dogged obstinacy, Isaac Hakkabut refused 
to take any share either in the labors or the amuse- 
ments of the colony. In spite of the cold, he had 
not been seen since the day of his arrival from 
Gourbi Island. Captain Servadac had strictly for- 
bidden any communication with him; and the smoke 
that rose from the cabin chimney of the Hansa wa3 
the sole indication of the proprietor being still on 
board. There was nothing to prevent him, if he 
chose, from partaking gratuitously of the volcanic 
light and heat which were being enjoyed by all be- 
sides; but rather than abandon his close and per- 
sonal oversight of his precious cargo, he preferred 
to sacrifice his own slender stock of fuel. 

Both the schooner and the tartan had been care- 
fully moored in the way that seemed to promise 
best for withstanding the rigor of the winter. 
After seeing the vessels made secure in the frozen 
creek, Lieutenant Procope, following the example 
of many Arctic explorers, had the precaution to 
have the ice beveled away from the keels, so that 
there should be no risk of the ships' sides being 
crushed by the increasing pressure; he hoped that 
they would follow any rise in the level of the ice- 
field, and when the thaw should come, that they 
would easily regain their proper water-line. 

On his last visit to Gourbi Island, the lieutenant 
had ascertained that north, east, and west, far as 
the ey"e could reach, the Gallian Sea had become 
one uniform sheet of ice. One spot alone refused 
to freeze; this was the pool immediately below the 
central cavern, the receptacle for the stream of 
burning lava. It was entirely enclosed by rocks, 
and if ever a few icicles were formed there by the 
action of the cold, they were very soon melted by 
the fiery shower. Hissing and spluttering as the 
hot lava came in contact with it, the water was in 
a continual state of ebullition, and the fish that 
abounded in its depths defied the angler's craft; 
they were, as Ben Zoof remarked, "too much boiled 
to bite." 

At the beginning of April the weather changed. 
The sky became overcast, but there was no rise in 
the temperature. Uniike the polar winters of the 
earth, which ordinarily are affected by atmospheric 
influence, and liable to slight intermissions of their 
severity at various shiftings of the wind, Gallia's 
winter was caused by her immense distance from 
the source of all light and heat, and the cold was 
consequently destined to go on steadily increasing 
until it reached the limit ascertained by Fourier 
to be the normal temperature of the realms of space. 

With the over-clouding of the heavens there arose 
a violent tempest; but although the wind raged 
with an almost Inconceivable fury, it was unac- 
companied by either snow or rain. Its effect upon 



OFF ON A COMET 



53 



the burning curtain that covered the aperture of 
the central hall was very remarkable. So far from 
there being any likelihood of the fire being extin- 
guished by the vehemence of the current of air, 
the hurricane seemed rather to act as a ventilator, 
which fanned the flame into greater activity, and 
the utmost care was necessary to avoid being burnt 
by the fragments of lava that were drifted into 
the interior of the grotto. More than once the 
curtain itself was rifted entirely asunder, but only 
to close up again immediately after allowing a 
momentary draught of cold air to penetrate the 
hall in a way that was refreshing and rather ad- 
vantageous than otherwise. 

On the 4th of April, after an absence of about 
four days, the new satellite, to Ben Zoof's great 
satisfaction, made its reappearance in a crescent 
form, a circumstance that seemed to justify the 
anticipation that henceforward it would continue 
to make a periodic revolution every fortnight. 

The crust of ice and snow was far too stout for 
the beaks of the strongest birds to penetrate, and 
accordingly large swarms had left the island, and, 
following the human population, had taken refuge 
on the volcanic promontory; not that there the 
barren shore had anything in the way of nourish- 
ment to offer them, but iheir instinct impelled them 
to haunt now the very habitations which formerly 
they would have shunned. Scraps of food were 
thrown to them from the galleries; these were 
speedily devoured, but were altogether inadequate 
in quantity to meet the demand. At length, em- 
boldened by hunger, several hundred birds ventured 
through the tunnel, and took up their quarters ac- 
tually in Nina's Hive. Congregating in the large 
hall, the half-famished creatures did not hesitate 
to snatch bread, meat, or food of any description 
from the hands of the residents as they sat at table, 
and soon became such an intolerable nuisance that 
it formed one of the daily diversions to hunt them 
down; but although they were vigorously attacked 
by stones and sticks, and even occasionally by shot, 
it was with some difficulty that their number could 
be sensibly reduced. 

By a systematic course of warfare the bulk of 
the birds were all expelled, with the exception of 
about a hundred, which began to build in the crev- 
ices of the rocks. These were left in quiet posses- 
sion of their quarters, as not only was it deemed 
advisable to perpetuate the various breeds, but it 
was found that these birds acted as a kind of police, 
never failing either to chase away or to kill any 
others of their species who infringed upon what 
they appeared to regard as their own special privi- 
lege in intruding within the limits of their domain. 

On the 15th loud cries were suddenly heard issu- 
ing from the mouth of the principal gallery. 

"Help, help! I shall be killed!" 

Pablo in a moment recognized the voice as Nina's. 
Outrunning even Ben Zoof he hurried to the assist- 
ance of his little playmate, and discovered that she 
was being attacked by half a dozen great sea-gulls, 
and only after receiving some severe blows from 
their beaks couid he succeed by means of a stout 
cudgel in driving them away. 

"Tell me, Nina, what is this?" he asked as soon 
as the tumult had subsided. 

The child pointed to a bird which she was cares- 
sing tenderly in her bosom. 



"A pigeon!" exclaimed Ben Zoof, who had reached 
the scene of the commotion. "A carrier-pigeon! 
And by all the saints of Monlmartre, there is a 
little bag attached to its neck!" 

He took the bird, and rushing into the hall 
placed it in Servadac's hands. 

"Another message, no doubt," cried the captain, 
"from our unknown friend. Let us hope that this 
time he has given us his name and address." 

All crowded round, eager to hear the news. In 
the struggle with the gulls the bag had been parti- 
ally torn open, but still contained the following dis- 
patch : 

"Gallia!" 

Chemin parcouru du Jer Mots an lev Avril: 
39,000,000 1. 1 

Distance du soleil: 110,000,000 1. / 

Capte Nerina en passant. 

Vivres vantmnnqueret.. . ," 

The rest of the document had been so damaged 
by the beaks of the gulls that it was illegible. Ser- 
vadac was wild with vexation. He felt more and 
more convinced that the writer was a Frenchman, 
and that the last line indicated that he was in dis- 
tress from scarcity of food. The very thought of 
a fellow-countryman in peril of starvation drove, 
him well-nigh to distraction, and it was in vain that 
search was made everywhere near the scene of 
conflict in hopes of finding the missing scrap that 
might bear a signature or address. 

Suddenly little Nina, who had again taken pos- 
session of the pigeon, and was hugging it to her 
breast, said: 

"Look here, Ben Zoof!" 

And as she spoke she pointed to the left wing 
of the bird. 

The wing bore the faint impress of a postage 
stamp, and the one word: 

"FORMENTERA." 

CHAPTER XXIV 

A SLEDGE-RIDE 

Formentera was at once recognized by Serva- 
dac and the count as the name of one of the small- 
est of the Balearic Islands. It was more than prob- 
able that the unknown writer had thence sent out 
the mysterious documents, and from the message 
just come to hand by the carrier-pigeon, it ap- 
peared all but certain that at the beginning of April, 
a fortnight back, he had still been there. In one 
important particular the present communication 
differed from those that had preceded it: it was 
written entirely in French, and exhibited none of 
the ecstatic exclamations in other languages that 
had been remarkable in the two former papers. 
The concluding line, with its intimation of failing 
provisions, amounted almost to an appeal for help. 
Captain Servadac briefly drew attention to these 
points, and concluded by saying, "My friends, we 
must, without delay, hasten to the assistance of 
this unfortunate man." 

"For my part," said the count, "I am quite ready 
to accompany you; it is not unlikely that he is not 
alone in his distress." 

Lieutenant Procope expressed much surprise. 

"We must have passed close to Formentera," he 
said, "when we explored the site of the Balearic 



54 



AMAZING STORIES 



Isles; this fragment must be very small; it must be 
smaller than the remaining splinter of Gibraltar or 
Ceuta; otherwise, surely it would never have es- 
caped our observation." 

"However small it may be," replied Servadac, 
'"we rau3t find it. How far off do you suppose it 
is?" 

"It must be a hundred and twenty leagues away," 
said the lieutenant, thoughtfully; "and I do not 
quite understand how you would propose to get 
there." 

"Why, on skates of course; no difficulty in that, 
I should imagine," answered Servadac, and he ap- 
pealed to the count for confirmation of his opinion. 

The count assented, but Proeope looked doubtful. 

"Your enterprise is generous," he said, "and I 
should be most unwilling to throw any unnecessary 
obstacle in the way of its execution; but, pardon 
me, if I submit to you a few considerations which 
to my mind are very important. First of all, the 
thermometer is already down to 22° below zero, and 
the keen wind from the south is making the tem- 
perature absolutely unendurable; in the second 
place, supposing you travel at the rate of twenty 
leagues a day, you would be exposed for at least 
six consecutive days; and thirdly, your expedition 
will be of small avail unless you convey provisions 
not only for yourselves, but for those whom you 
hope to relieve." 

"We can carry our own provisions on our backs 
in knapsacks," interposed Servadac, quickly, un- 
willing to recognize any difficulty in the way. 

"Granted that you can," answered the lieutenant, 
quietly; "but where, on this level ice-field, will you 
find shelter in your periods of rest? You must 
perish with cold; you will not have the chance of 
digging out ice-huts like the Esquimaux." 

"As to. rest," said Servadac, "we shall take none; 
we shall keep on our way continuously ; by traveling 
day and night without intermission, we shall not 
be more than three days in reaching Formentera." 

"Believe me," persisted the lieutenant, calmly, 
"your enthusiasm is carrying you too far; the feat 
you propose is impossible; but even conceding the 
possibility of your success in reaching your destina- 
tion, what service do you imagine that you, half- 
starved and half-frozen yourself, could render to 
those who are already perishing by want and ex- 
posure? you would only bring them away to die." 

The obvious and dispassionate reasoning of the 
lieutenant could not fait to impress the minds of 
those who listened to him; the impracticability of 
the journey became more and more apparent; un- 
protected on that drear expanse, any traveler must 
assuredly succumb to the snow-drifts that were con- 
tinually being whirled across it. But Hector Ser- 
vadac, animated by the generous desire of rescuing 
a suffering feliow- creature, could scarcely be 
brought within the bounds of common sense. 
Against his better judgment he was still bent upon 
the expedition, and Een Zoof declared himself ready 
to accompany his master in the event of Count 
Timascheff hesitating to encounter the peril which 
the undertaking involved. But the count entirely 
repudiated all idea of shrinking from what, quite 
as much as the captain, he regarded as a sacred 
duty, and turning to Lieutenant Proeope, told him 
that unless some better plan could be devised, he 
was prepared to start off at once and make the at- 



tempt to skate across to Formentera. The lieuten- 
ant, who was lost in thought, made no immediate 
reply. 

"I wish we had r sledge," said Ben Zoof. 

"I dare say that a sledge of some sort could be 
contrived," said the count ; "but then we should have 
no dogs or reindeers to draw it." 

"Why not rough-shoe the two horses?" 

"They would never be able to endure the cold," 
objected the count. 

"Never mind," said Servadac, "let us get our 
sledge and put them to the teat. Something must be 
done !" 

"I think," said Lieutenant Proeope, breaking his 
thoughtful silence, "that I can tell you of a sledge 
already provided for your hand, and I can suggest 
a motive power surer and swifter than horses." 

"What do you mean?" was the eager inquiry. 

"I mean the Dobryna's yawl," answered the lieu- 
tenant; "and I have no doubt that the wind would 
carry her rapidly along the ice." 

The idea seemed admirable. Lieutenant Proeope 
was well aware to what marvelous perfection the 
Americans had brought their sail-sledgea, and had 
heard how in the vast prairies of the United States 
tbey had been known to outvie the speed of an ex- 
press train, occasionally attaining a rate of more 
than a hundred miles an hour. The wind was still 
blowing hard from the south, and assuming that 
the yawl could be propelled with a velocity of about 
fifteen or at least twelve leagues an hour, he reck- 
oned that it was quite possible to reach Formentera 
within twelve hours, that is to say, in a single day 
between the intervals of sunrise and sunrise. 

The yawl was about twelve feet long, and capable 
of holding five or six people. The addition of a couple 
of iron runners would be all that was requisite to 
convert it into an excellent sledge, which, if a sail 
were hoisted, might be deemed certain to make a 
rapid progress over the smooth surface of the ice. 
For the protection of the passengers it was proposed 
to erect a kind' of wooden roof lined with strong 
cloth; beneath this could be packed a supply of pro- 
visions, some warm furs, some cordials, and a port- 
able stove to be heated by spirits of wine. 

For the outward journey the wind was as favor- 
able as could be desired; but it was to be apprehend- 
ed that, unless the direction of the wind should 
change, the return would be a matter of some diffi- 
culty; a system of tacking might be carried out to a 
certain degree, but it was not likely that the yawl 
would answer her helm in any way corresponding to 
what would occur in the open sea. Captain Servadac, 
however, would not listen to any representation of 
probable difficulties ; the future, he said, must pro- 
vide for itself. 

The engineer and several of the sailors set vigor- 
ously to work, and before the close of the day the 
yawl was furnished with a pair of stout iron run- 
ners, curved upwards in front, and fitted with a 
metal fin designed to assist in maintaining the 
directness of her course; the roof was put on, and 
beneath it were stored the provisions, the wraps, 
and the cooking utensils. 

A strong desire was expressed by Lieutenant 
Proeope that he should be allowed to accompany 
Captain Servadac instead of Count Timascheff. It 
was inadvisable for all three of them to go, as, in 
case of there being several persons to be rescued, the 



OFF ON A COMET 



55 



spaoe at their command would be quite inadequate. 
The lieutenant urged that he was the most experi- 
enced seaman, and as such was best qualified to take 
command of the sledge and the management of the 
sails ; and as it was not to be expected that Servadae 
would resign his intention of going in person to 
relieve his fellow-eountryman, Procope submitted 
his own wishes to the count. The count was himself 
very anxious to have his share in the philanthropic 
enterprise, and demurred considerably to the pro- 
posals; he yielded, however, after a time, to Serva- 
dac'a representations that in the event of the expedi- 
tion proving disastrous, the little colony would need 
his services alike as governor and protector, and 
overcoming his reluctance to be left out of the peril- 
ous adventure, was prevailed upon to remain behind 
for the general good of the community at Nina's 
Hive. 

At sunrise on the following morning, the 16th of 
April, Captain Servadae and the lieutenant took 
their places in the yawl. The thermometer was 
more than 20° below zero, and it was with deep 
emotion that their companions beheld them thus em- 
barking upon the vast white plain. Ben Zoof's 
heart was too full for words; Count Timascheff 
could not forbear pressing his two brave friends to 
his bosom; the Spaniards and the Russian sailors 
crowded round for a farewell shake of the hand, and 
little Nina, her great eyes flooded with tears, held 
up her face for a parting kiss. The sad scene was 
not permitted to last long. The sail was quickly 
hoisted, and the sledge, just as if it had expanded 
a huge white wing, was in a little while carried far 
away beyond the horizon. 

Light and unimpeded, the yawl scudded on with 
incredible speed. Two sails, a mainsail and a jib, 
were arranged to catch the wind to the greatest 
advantage, and the travelers estimated that their 
progress would be little under the rate of twelve 
leagues an hour. The motion of their novel vehicle 
was singularly gentle, the oscillation being less than 
that of an ordinary railway-carriage, while the 
diminished force of gravity contributed to the swift- 
ness. Except that the clouds of ice-dust raised by 
the metal runners were an evidence that they had 
not actually left the level surface of the ice, the 
captain and- lieutenant might again and again have 
imagined that they were being conveyed through the 
air in a balloon. 

Lieutenant Procope, with his head all muffled up 
for fear of frost-bite, took an occasional peep 
through an aperture that, had been intentionally left 
in the roof, and by the help of a compass, main- 
tained a proper and straight course for Formentera. 
Nothing could be more dejected than the aspect of 
that frozen sea ; not a single living creature relieved 
the solitude; both the travelers, Procope from a 
scientific point of view, Servadae from an aesthetic, 
were alike impressed by the solemnity of the scene, 
and when the lengthened shadow of the sail cast 
upon the ice by the oblique rays of the setting sun 
had disappeared, and day had given place to night, 
the two men, drawn together as by an involuntary 
impulse, mutually held each other's hands in silence. 

There had been a new moon on the previous eve- 
ning; but, in the absence of moonlight, the constella- 
tions shone with remarkable brilliancy. The new 
pole-star close upon the horizon was resplendent, 
and even had Lieutenant Procope been destitute of 



a compass, he would have had no difficulty in holding 
his course by the guidance of that alone. However 
great was the distance that separated Gallia from 
the sun, it was after all manifestly insignificant in 
comparison with the remoteness of the nearest of 
the fixed stars. 

Observing that Servadae was completely ab- 
sorbed in his own thoughts, Lieutenant Procope had 
leisure to contemplate some of the present perplex- 
ing problems, and to ponder over the true astronom- 
ical position. The last of the three mysterious docu- 
ments had represented that Gallia, in conformity 
with Kepler's second law, had traveled along her 
orbit during the month of March twenty millions 
of leagues less than she had done in the previous 
mouth; yet, in the same time, her distance from the 
sun had nevertheless been increased by thirty-two 
millions of leagues. She was now, therefore, in the 
center of the zone of telescopic planets that revolve 
between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and had 
captured for herself a satellite which, according to 
the document, was Nerina, one of the asteroids most 
recently identified. If thus, then, it was within the 
power of the unknown writer to estimate with such 
apparent certainty Gallia's exact pusition, was it 
not likely that his mathematical calculations would 
enable him to arrive at some definite conclusion as 
to the date at which she would begin again to ap- 
proach the sun ? Nay, was it not to be expected that 
he had already estimated, with" sufficient approxima- 
tion to truth, what was to be the true length of the 
Gallian year? 

So intently had they each separately been fol- 
lowing their own train of thought, that daylight re- 
appeared almost before the travelers were aware 
of it. On consulting their instruments, they found 
that they must have traveled close upon a hundred 
leagues since they started, and they resolved to 
slacken their speed. The sails were accordingly 
taken in a little, and in spite of the intensity of the 
cold, the explorers ventured out of their shelter, in 
order that they might reconnoiter the plain, which 
was apparently as boundless as ever. It was com- 
pletely desert; not so much as a single point of rock 
relieved the bare uniformity of its surface. 

"Are we not considerably to the west of Formen- 
tera?" asked Servadae, after examining the ehart. 

"Most likely," replied Procope. "I have taken the 
same course as I should have done at sea, and I have 
kept some distance to windward of the island; we 
can bear straight down upon it whenever we like." 

"Bear down then, now; and as quickly as you 

The yawl was at once put with her head to the 
northeast, and Captain Servadae, in defiance of the 
icy blast, remained standing at the bow, hi3 gaze 
fixed on the horizon. 

All at once his eye brightened. 

"Look! look!" he exclaimed, pointing to a faint 
outline that broke the monotony of the circle that 
divided the plain from the sky. 

In an instant the lieutenant had seized his tele- 
scope. 

"I see what you mean," said he; "it is a pylon 
that has been used for some geodesic survey." 

The next moment the sail was filled, and the yawl 
was bearing down upon the object with inconceiv- 
able swiftness, both Captain Servadae and the lieu- 
tenant too excited to utter a word. Mile after mile 



56 



AMAZING STORIES 



the distance rapidly grew less, and as they drew 
nearer the pylon they could see that it was erected 
on a low mass of rocks that was the sole interrup- 
tion to the. dull level of the field of ice. No wreath 
of smoke rose above the little island; it was mani- 
festly impossible, they conceived, that any human 
being could there have survived the cold; the sad 
presentiment forced itself upon their minds that it. 
was a mere cairn to which they had been hurrying. 

Ten minutes later, and they were so near the rock 
that the lieutenant took in his sail, convinced that 
the impetus already attained would be sufficient to 
carry him to the land. Servadac's heart bounded as 
he caught sight of a fragment of blue canvas flut- 
tering in the wind from the top of the pylon t it was 
all that now remained of the French national stand- 
ard. At the foot of the pylon stood a miserable 
shed, its shutters tightly closed. No other habita- 
tion was to be seen ; the entire island was less than 
a quarter of a mile in circumference; and the con- 
clusion was irresistible that it was the sole surviv- 
ing remnant of Formentera, once a member of the 
Balearic Archipelago. 

To leap on shore, to clamber over the slippery 
stones, and to reach the cabin was but the work of 
a few moments. The worm-eaten door was bolted 
on the inside. Servadac began to knock with all his 
might. No answer. Neither shouting nor knocking 
could draw forth a reply. 

"Let us force it open, Procope!" he said. 

The two men put their shoulders to the door, 
which soon yielded to their vigorous efforts, and 
they found themselves inside the shed, and in almost 
total darkness. By opening a shutter they admitted 
what daylight they could, At first sight the 
wretched place seemed to be deserted; the little 
grate contained the ashes of a fire long since extin- 



guished; all looked black and desolate. Another 
instant's investigation, however, revealed a bed in 
the extreme corner, and extended on the bed a hu- 
man form. 

"Dead!" sighed Servadac; "dead of cold and hun- 
ger!" 

Lieutenant Procope bent down and anxiously con- 
templated the body. 

"No; he is alive!" he said, and drawing a small 
flask from his pocket he poured a few drops of 
brandy between the lips of the senseless man. 

There was a faint sigh, followed by a feeble voice, 
which uttered the one word, "Gallia?" 

"Yes, yes! Gallia!" echoed Servadac, eagerly. 

"My comet, my comet!" said the voice, so low as 
to be almost inaudible, and the unfortunate man 
relapsed again into unconsciousness. 

"Where have I seen this man?" thought Servadac 
to himself; "his face is strangely familiar to me." 

But it was no time for deliberation. Not a mo- 
ment was to be lost in getting the unconscious 
astronomer away from his desolate quarters. He 
was soon conveyed to the yawl ; bis books, his scanty 
wardrobe, his papers, his instruments, and the 
blackboard which had served for his calculations, 
were quickly collected; the wind, by a fortuitous 
providence, had shifted into a favorable quarter; 
they set their sail with all speed, and ere long were 
on their journey back from Formentera. 

Thirty-six hours later, the brave travelers were 
greeted by the acclamations of their fellow-colo- 
nists, who had been most anxiously awaiting their 
reappearance, and the still senseless savant, who 
had neither opened his eyes nor spoken a word 
throughout the journey, was safely deposited in the 
warmth and security of the great hall of Nina's 
Hive. 



END OF FIRST BOOK 
{Concluded in May issue) 



fNow that you have looked over the first issue of AMAZING STORIES, the 
editor would very much like to know how you like the new magazine. In 

the coming issues we shall probably run a department entitled "Readers' 
Letters", which will be a forum where our readers can discuss the various 
problems in connection with these stories. Very often yoti are puzzled over 
certain scientific matter contained in stories of this kind and wish to get more 
information. We shall try hard to keep this new department for the benefit 
of all, and will try to publish all letters received from readers of AMAZING 
STORIES. | 

If, on the other hand, you have comments, criticisms, and suggestions, be 
good enough to let us have all of these. The editor would also like to know 
whether you like the present makeup of the magazine; that is, one Story in 
two parts, as, for instance, the one we present this month, "Off on a Comet", 
with the balance in the next issue — or whether you would rather have the 
complete story in one issue, without the short stories as printed in the present 
number. 

Rest assured that the editor will be guided by the majority at all times. 
A word from you will be greatly appreciated. 

—EDITOR. 




New accelerator 

'2>ifJi.g. c Wells 












.1, and there we 


::,,:■ 












c. Tb< 








the Ices of the horses 








of lh. 














';'.^..' 


ginning to yawn 
tibly in motion, 


M jl' 














Sat" 


noiseless except 
aiding that com 
ne nun's throat! 


far ■ 




EETAINLY, if ever a man found a 
guinea when he was looking for a 
pin it is my good friend Professor 
Gibberne. I have heard before of in- 
vestigators 



shooting the mark, but never 
quite to the extent that he has 
done. He has really, this time 
at any rate, without any touch 
of exaggeration in the phrase, 
found something to revolutionize 
human life. And that when he 
was simply seeking an all-round 
nervous stimulant to bring lan- 
guid people up to the stresses of 
these pushful days. I have tasted 
the stuff now several times, and 
I cannot do better than describe 
the effect the thing had on me. 
That there are astonishing ex- 
periences in store for all in 
search of new sensations will be- 
come apparent enough. 

Professor Gibberne, as many 



/T IS enough to say in commenda- 
tion of this very exciting story 
that it is worthy of the author. 
II. C. Wells has achieved a wonderful 
reputation in the field of serious writ- 
ing as well as of fiction. Here for the 
entertainment of the reader wc present 
a scientific story by him, the hero of 
which story is a physiologist and 
chemist. And now we deal with the 
science of the human system and are 
told the story of a wonderful ahieve- 
ment which must be read in detail to 
be appreciated. Mr. Wells' waiter is 
not only vhid and even ■valuable, bill 
there is a picturesgueness about Iris 
language which attracts, as it is dis- 
tinctively the English of the mother 
country. 



people know, is my neighbor in Folkestone. Unless 
my memory plays me a trick, his portrait at various 
ages has already appeared in various magazines, but 
I am unable to look it up, because I have lent my 
volume to someone who has 
never sent it back. The reader 
may, p*erhaps, recall the high 
forehead and the singularly long 
black eyebrows that give such a 
Mephistophelian touch to his 
face. He occupies one of those 
pleasant little detached houses 
in the mixed style that make the 
western end of the Upper Sand- 
gate Road so interesting. His is 
the one with the Flemish gables 
and portico, and it is in the little 
room with the mullioned bay 
window that he works when he 
is down here, and in which of an 
evening we have so often smoked 
and talked together. He is a 
mighty jester, but, besides, he 
likes to talk to me about his 



AMAZING STORIES 



work; he is one of those men who find a help and 
stimulus in talking, and so I have been able to fol- 
low the conception of the New Accelerator right up 
from a very early stage. Of course, the greater por- 
tion of his experimental work is not done in Folke- 
stone, but in Govver Street, in the fine new labora- 
tory next to the hospital that he has been the first 
to use. 

As everyone knows, or at least as all intelligent 
people know, the special field in which Gibberne has 
gained so great and deserved a reputation among 
physiologists includes the action of drugs upon the 
nervous system. On the subjects of soporifics, 
sedatives, and anaesthetics he is, I am told, un- 
equalled. He is also a chemist of considerable emin- 
ence, and I suppose in the subtle and complex jungle 
of riddles that shadows the ganglion cell and the 
axis fibre there are little cleared places of his mak- 
ing, little glades of illumination, which, until he sees 
fit to publish his results, are still inaccessible to 
every other living man. And in the last few years 
he has been particularly assiduous upon the question 
of nervous stimulants, and already, before the dis- 
covery of the New Accelerator, had attained great 
success with them. Medical science has to thank 
him for at least three distinct and absolutely safe 
invigorators of unrivalled value to practising men. 
In cases of exhaustion the preparation known as 
Gibberne's B Syrup has, I suppose, saved more lives 
already than any lifeboat on the coast. 

"But none of these little things begin to satisfy 
me yet," he told me nearly a year ago. "Either they 
increase the central energy without affecting the 
nerves or they simply increase the available energy 
by lowering the nervous conductivity; and all of 
them are unequal and local in their operation. One 
wakes up the heart and viscera and leaves the brain 
stupefied, one gets at the brain, champagne fashion, 
and does nothing good for the solar plexus, and 
what I want, and what, if it's an earthly possibility, 
I mean to have — is a stimulant that stimulates all 
round, that wakes you up for a time from the crown 
of your head to the tip of your great toe, and makes 
you go two — or even three to everybody else's one. 
Eh? That's the thing I'm after." 

"It would tire a man," I said. 

"Not a doubt of it. And you'd eat double or 
treble — and all that. But just think what the thing 
would mean. Imagine yourself with a little phial 
like this" — he held up a little bottle of green glass 
and marked his points with it — "and that in this 
precious phial is the power to think twice as fast, 
move twice as quickly, do twice as much work in a 
given time as you could otherwise do." 

"But is such a thing possible?" 

"I believe so. If it isn't, I've wasted my time 
For a year. These various preparations of the hypo- 
phosphites, for example, seem to show that some- 
thing of the sort. . . . Even if it was only one and 
a half times as fast it would do." 

"It would do," I said. 

"If you were a statesman in a corner, for example, 
time rushing up against you, something urgent to 
be done, eh?" 

"He could dose his private secretary," I said. 

"And gain — double time. And think if you, for 
example, wanted to finish a book." 

"Usually," I said, "I wish I'd never begun 'em." 

"Or a doctor, driven to death, wants to sit down 



and think out a case. Or a barrister— or a man 
cramming for an examination." 

"Worth a guinea a drop," said I, "and more — to 
men like that." 

"And in a duel, again," said Gibberne, "where it 
all depends on your quickness in pulling the 
trigger." 

"Or in fencing," I echoed. 

"You see," said Gibberne, "if I get it as an all- 
round thing it will really do you no harm at all — 
except perhaps to an infinitesimal degree it brings 
you nearer old age. You will just have lived twice 
to other peoples once — 

"I suppose," I meditated, "in a duel — it would 
be fair?" 

"That's a question for the seconds," said Gib- 
berne. 

I harked back further. "And you really think 
such a thing is possible?" I said. 

"As possible," said Gibberne, and glanced at 
something that went throbbing by the window, "a3 
a motorbus. As a matter of fact " 

He paused and smiled at me deeply, and tapped 
slowly on the edge of his desk with the green phial. 

"I think 1 know the stuff. . . . Already I've got 
something coming." The nervous smile upon his 
face betrayed the gravity of his revelation. He 
rarely talked of his actual experimental work, unless 
things were very near the end. "And it may be, it 
may be — I shouldn't be surprised — it may even do 
the thing at a greater rate than twice." 

"It will be rather a big thing," I hazarded. 

"It will be, I think, rather a big thing." 

But I don't think he quite knew what a big thing 
ft was to be, for all that. 

1 remember we had several talks about the stuff 
after that. "The New Accelerator," he called it, 
and his tone about it grew more confident on each 
occasion. Sometimes he talked nervously of unex- 
pected physiological results its use might have, and 
then he would get a little unhappy; at others he was 
frankly mercenary, and we debated long and 
anxiously how the preparation might be turned to 
commercial account. "It's a good thing," said Gib- 
berne, "a tremendous thing. I know I'm giving the 
world something, and I think it only reasonable we 
should expect the world to pay. The dignity of 
science is all very well, but I think somehow I 
must have the monopoly of the stuff for say, ten 
years. I don't see why all the fun in life should go 
to the dealers in ham." 

It seemed to me that Gibberne was really pre- 
paring no less than the absolute acceleration of 
life. Suppose a man repeatedly dosed with such a 
preparation ; he would live an active and record life 
indeed, but he would be an adult at eleven, middle- 
aged at twenty-five and by thirty well on the road to 
senile decay. It seemed to me that so far Gibberne 
was going to do for anyone who took his drug, 
exactly what Nature has done for the Jews and^ 
Orientals, who are men in their teens and aged by 
fifty, and quicker in thought and act than we are 
all the time. The marvel of drugs has always been 
great to my mind; you can madden a man, calm a 
man, make him incredibly strong and alert or a 
helpless log, quicken this passion and allay that, 
all by moans of drugs, and here was a new miracle 
to be added to this strange armory of phials the 
doctors use! But Gibberne was far too eager upon 



THE NEW ACCELERATOR 



59 



his technical points to enter very keenly into my 
aspect of the question. 

It was the 7th or 8th of August when he told 
me the distillation that would decide his failure or 
success for a time was going forward as we talked, 
and it was on the 10th that he told me the thing was 
done and the New Accelerator a tangible reality in 
the world. I met him as I was going up the Sand- 
gate Hill toward Folkestone — -I think I was going 
to get my hair cut, and he came hurrying down 
to meet me — I suppose he was coming to my house 
to tell me at once of his success. I remember that 
his eyes were unusually bright and his face flushed, 
and I noted the swift alacrity of his step. 

"It's done," he cried, and gripped my hand, 
speaking very fast; "it's more than done. Come 
up to my house and see." 

"Really?" 

"Really!" he shouted. "Incredibly! Come up 
and see." 

"And it does — twice?" 

"It does more, much more. It scares me. Come 
up and see the stuff. Taste it! Try it! It's the 
most amazing stuff on earth." He gripped my arm 
and, walking at such a pace that he forced me into 
a trot, went shouting with me up the hill. A whole 
power-bus of people turned and stared at us in 
unison after the manner of people in power-buses. It 
was one of those hot, clear days that Folkestone 
sees so much of, every color incredibly bright and 
every outline hard. There was a breeze, of course, 
but not so much breeze as sufficed under these con- 
ditions to keep me cool and dry. I panted for mercy. 

"I'm not walking fast, am I?" cried Gibberne, 
and slackened his pace to a quick march. 

"You've been taking some of this stuff," I puffed. 

"No," he said. %A.t the utmost a drop of water 
that stood in a beaker from which I had washed 
out the last traces of the stuff. I took some last 
night you know. But that is ancient history, now." 

"And it goes twice?" I said. Bearing his door- 
way in a grateful perspiration. 

"It goes a thousand times, many thousand times," 
cried Gibberne, with a dramatic gesture, flinging 
open his Early English carved oak gate. 

"Phew," said I, and followed him to the door. 

"I don't know how many times it goes," he said, 
with his latch-key in his hand. 

"And you " 

"It throws all sorts of light on nervous physiology, 
it kicks the theory of vision into a perfectly new 
shape." . . . "Heaven knows how many thousand 
times. We'll try all that after. The thing is to 
try the stuff now." 

"Try the stuff?" I said, as we went along the 
passage. 

"Rather," said Gibberne, turning on me in his 
study. "There it is in that little green phial there. 
Unless you happen to be afraid." 

I am a careful man by nature, and only theoreti- 
cally adventurous. I was afraid. But on the other 
hand, there is pride. 

"Well," I haggled. "You say you've tried it?" 

"I've tried it," he said, "and I don't look hurt by 
it, do I? I don't even look livery and I feel " 

I sat down. "Give me the potion," I said. "If 
the worst comes to the worst it will save having my 
hair cut, and that I think is one of the most hateful 



duties of a civilized man. How do you take the 
mixture?" 

"With water," said Gibberne, whacking down a 
carafe. 

He stood up in front of his desk and regarded 
me in his easy chair; his manner was suddenly af- 
fected by a touch of the Harley Street specialist. 
"It's rum stuff, you know," he said. 

I made a gesture with my hand. 

"I must warn you in the first place as soon as 
you've got it down to shut your eyes, and open 
them very cautiously in a minute or so's time. One 
still sees. The sense of vision is a question of length 
of vibration, consequently of frequency of impacts; 
but there's a kind of shock to the retina, a nasty 
giddy confusion just at the time, if the eyes are 
open. Keep 'em 3hut," 

"Shut," I said. "Good!" 

"And the next thing is, keep still. Don't begin 
to whack about. You may fetch something a nasty 
rap if you do. Remember you will be going several 
thousand times faster than you ever did before, 
heart, lungs, muscles, brain — everything — and you 
will hit hard without knowing it. You won't know it, 
you know. You'll feel just as you do now. Only 
everything in the world will seem to be going ever 
so many thousand times slower than it ever went 
before. That's what makes it so deuced queer." 

"Lor'," I said. "And you mean " 

"You'll see," said he, and took up a little measure. 
He glanced at the material on his desk. "Glasses," 
he said, "water. All here. Mustn't take too much 
for the first attempt," 

The little phial glucked out its precious contents. 
"Don't forget what I told you," he said, turning the 
contents of the measure in the manner of an Italian 
waiter measuring whisky. "Sit with the eyes tightly 
shut and in absolute stillness for two minutes," he 
said. "Then you will hear me speak." 

He added an inch or so of water to the little dose 
in each glass. 

"By-the-by," he said, "don't put your glass down. 
Keep it in your hand and rest your hand on your 
knee. Yes — so, and now " 

He raised his glass. 

"The New Accelerator," I said. 

"The New Accelerator," he answered, and we 
touched glasses and drank, and instantly I closed 
my eyes. 

You know that blank non-existence into which 
one drops when one has taken "ga3." For an in- 
definite interval it was like that. Then I heard 
Gibberne telling me to wake up, and I stirred and 
opened my eyes. There he stood as he had been 
standing, glass still in hand. It was empty, that waa 
all the difference. 

"Well?" said I. 

"Nothing out of the way?" 

"Nothing. A slight feeling of exhilaration, per- 
haps. Nothing more." 

"Sounds?" 

"Things are still," I said. "By Jove! Yes! They 
are still. Except the sort of faint pat, patter, like 
rain falling on different things. What is it?" 

"Analyzed sounds," I think he said, but I am not 
sure. He glanced at the window. "Have you ever 
seen a curtain before a window fixed in that way 
before?" 

I followed bis eyes, and there was the end of the 



60 



AMAZING STORIES 



curtain, frozen as it were, corner high, in the act 
of flapping briskly in the breeze. 

"No," eaid I; "that's odd." 

"And here," he said, and opened the hand that 
held the glass. Naturally I winced, expecting the 
glass to smash. But so far from smashing it did 
not even seem to stir ; it hung in mid-air — motion- 
less. "Roughly speaking," said Gibber ne, "ah ob- 
ject in these latitudes falls 16 feet in a second now. 
Only, you see, it hasn't fallen yet for the hundredth 
part of a second. That gives you some idea of the 
pace of my Accelerator." And he waved his hand 
round and round, over and under the slowly sinking 
glass. Finally he took it by the bottom, pulled it 
down, and placed it very carefully on the table. 
"Eh?" he said to me and laughed. 

"That seems all right," I said, and began very 
gingerly to raise myself from my chair. I felt per- 
fectly well, very light and comfortable, and quite 
confident in my mind. I was going fast all over. 
My heart, for example, was beating a thousand 
times a second, but that caused me no discomfort 
at all. I looked out of the window. An immovable 
cyclist, head down and with a frozen puff of dust 
behind his driving-wheel, scorched to overtake a 
galloping char-a-banc that did not stir. I gaped in 
amazement at this incredible spectacle. "Gibberne," 
I cried, "how long will this confounded stuff last?" 

"Heaven knows!" he answered. "Last time I took 
it I went to bed and slept it off. I tell you, I ■was 
frightened. It must have lasted some minutes, I 
think — it seemed like hours. But after a bit it slows 
down rather suddenly, I believe." 

I was proud to observe that I did not feel fright- 
ened — I suppose because there were two of us. 

"Why shouldn't we go out?" I asked. 

"Why not?" 

"They'll see us." 

"Not they. Goodness no! We shall be going 
a thousand times faster than the quickest con- 
juring trick that was ever done. Come along! 
Which way shall we go? Window, or door?" 

And out by the window we went. 

Assuredly of all the strange experiences that I 
have ever had, or imagined, or read of other people 
having or imagining, that little raid I made with 
Gibberne on the Folkestone Leas, under the "in- 
fluence of the New Accelerator, was the strangest 
and maddest of all. We went out by his gate into 
the road, and there we made a minute examination 
of the statuesque passing traffic. The tops of the 
wheels and some of the legs of the horses of this 
char-a-banc, the end of the whip-lash and the lower 
jaw of the conductor- — who was just beginning to 
yawn — were perceptibly in motion, but all the rest of 
the lumbering conveyance seemed still. And quite 
noiseless except for a faint rattling that came from 
one man's throat ! And as parts of this frozen edifice 
there were a driver, you know, and a conductor, and 
eleven people! The effect as we walked about the 
thing began by being madly queer, and ended by 
being— disagreeable. There they were, people like 
ourselves and yet not like ourselves, frozen in care- 
less attitudes, caught in mid-gesture. A girl and 
a man smiled at one another, a leering smile that 
threatened to last for evermore"; a woman in a floppy 
capelline rested her arm on the rail and stared at 
Gibbeme's house with the unwinking stare of 
eternity; a man stroked his mustache like a figure 



of wax, and another stretched a tiresome stiff hand 
with extended fingers towards his loosened hat. We 
stared at them, we laughed at them, we made faces 
at them, and then a sort of disgust of them came 
upon us, and we turned away and walked around in 
front of the cyclist towards the Leas. 

"Goodness!" cried Gibberne, suddenly; "look 
there I" 

He pointed, and there at the tip of his finger and 
sliding down the air with wings flapping slowly and 
at the speed of an exceptionally languid snail— was 
a bee. 

And so we came out upon the Leas. There the 
thing seemed madder than ever. The band was 
playing in the upper stand, though all the sound it 
made for us was a low-pitched, wheezy rattle, a sort 
of prolonged last sigh that passed at times into a 
sound like the slow, muffled ticking of some mon- 
strous clock. Frozen people stood erect, strange, 
silent, self-conscious-looking dummies hung unstab- 
ly in mid-stride, promenading upon the grass. I 
passed close to a little poodle dog suspended in the 
act of leaping, and watched the slow movement of 
his legs as he sank to earth. "Lord, look here!" cried 
Gibberne, and we halted a moment before a magnifi- 
cent person in white faint-striped flannels, white 
shoes, and a Panama hat, who turned back to wink 
at two gaily dressed ladies he had passed. A wink, 
studied with such leisurely deliberation as we could 
afford, is an unattractive thing. It loses any 
quality of alert gaiety, and one remarks that the 
winking eye does not completely close, that under 
its drooping lid appears the lower edge of an eye- 
ball and a little line of white. "Heaven give me 
memory," said I, "and I will never wink again." 

"Or smile," said Gibberne, with his eye on the 
lady's answering teeth. 

"It's infernally hot, somehow," said I. "Let's go 
slower." 

"Oh, come along!" said Gibberne. 

We picked our way among the bath-chairs in the 
path. Many of the people sitting in the chairs 
seemed almost natural in their passive poses, but 
the contorted scarlet of the bandsmen was not a 
restful thing to see. A purple-faced little gentle- 
man was frozen in the midst of a violent struggle 
to refold his newspaper against the wind; there 
were many evidences that all these people in their 
sluggish way were exposed to a considerable breeze, 
a breeze that had no existence so far as our sensa- 
tions went. We eame out and walked a little way 
from the crowd, and turned and regarded it. To 
see all that multitude changed to a picture, smitten 
rigid, as it were, into the semblance of realistic wax, 
was impossibly wonderful. It was absurd, of course, 
but it filled me with an irrational, an exultant sense 
of superior advantage. Consider the wonder of it! 
All that I had said and thought, and done since the 
stuff had begun to work in my veins had happened, 
so far as those people, so far as the world in general 
went, in the twinkling of an eye. "The New Ac- 
celerator " I began, but Gibberne interrupted 

me. 

"There's that infernal old woman!" he said. 

"What old woman?" 

"Lives next door to me," said Gibberne. "Has a 
lapdogthat yaps. Gods! The temptation is strong!" 

There is something very boyish and impulsive 
about Gibberne at times. Before I could expostulate 



THE NEW ACCELERATOR 



61 



with him he had dashed forward, snatched the un- 
fortunate animal out of visible existence, and was 
running violently with it towards the cliff of the 
Leas. It was most extraordinary. The little brute, 
you know, didn't bark or wriggle or make the 
slightest sign of vitality. It kept tiuite stiffly in an 
attitude of somnolent repose, and Gibberne held it 
by the neck. It was like running about with a dog 
of wood. "Gibberne," I cried, "put it down I" Then 
I said something else. "If you run like that "Gib- 
berne," I cried "you'll set your clothes on fire. Your 
linen trousers are going brown as it is!" 

He clapped his hand on his thigh and stood 
hesitating on the verge. "Gibberne," I cried, com- 
ing up, "put it down. This heat is too much! It's 
our running so. Two or three miles a second! Fric- 
tion of the air!" 

"What?" he said, glancing at the dog. 

"Friction of the air," I shouted. "Friction of 
the air. Going too fast. Like meteorites and things. 
Too hot. And, Gibberne! Gibberne! I'm all over 
pricking and a sort of perspiration. You can 'see 
people stirring slightly. I believe the stuff's work- 
ing off! Put that dog down." 

"Eh?" he said. 

"It's working off," I repeated. "We're too hot 
and the stuff's working off! I'm wet through." 

He stared at me. Then at the band, the wheezy 
rattle of whose performance was certainly going 
faster. Then with a tremendous sweep of his arm 
he hurled the dog away from him and it went spin- 
ning upward, still inanimate, and hung at last over 
the grouped parasols of a knot of chattering people. 
Gibberne was gripping my elbow. "By Jove!" he 
cried. "I believe it is! A sort of hot pricking and 
— yes. That man's moving his pocket-handkerchief ! 
Perceptibly. We must get out of this sharp." 

But we could not get out of it sharply enough. 
Luckily, perhaps; For we might have run, and if 
we had run we should, I .believe, have burst into 
flames. Almost certainly we should have burst into 
flames! You know we had neither of us thought 
of that. . . . But before we could even begin to 
run the action of the drug had ceased. It was the 
business of a minute fraction of a second. The 
effect of the New Accelerator passed like the draw- 
ing of a curtain, vanished in the movement of a 
hand. I heard Gibberne's voice in infinite alarm, 
"Sit down," he said, and flop, down upon the turf at 
the edge of the Leas I sat — scorching as I sat. 
There is a patch of burnt grass there still where 
I sat down. The whole stagnation seemed to wake 
up as I did so, the disarticulated vibration of the 
band rushed together into a blast of music, the 
promenaders put their feet down and walked their 
ways, the papers and flags began flapping, smiles 
passed into words, the winker finished his wink and 
went on his way complacently, and all the seated 
people moved and spoke. 

The whole world had come alive again, was 
going as fast as we were, or rather we were going 
no faster than the rest of the world. It was like 
slowing down as one comes into a railway station. 
Everything seemed to spin around for a second or 
two, I had the most transient feeling of nausea, and 
that was all. And the little dog which had seemed 
to hang for a moment when the force of Gibberne's 
arm was expended fell with a swift acceleration 
clean through a lady's parasol! 



That wa3 the saving of us. Unless it was for one 
corpulent old gentleman in a bath-chair, who cer- 
tainly did start at the sight of us and afterwards 
regarded us at intervals with a darkly suspicious 
eye, and finally, I believe, said something to his 
nurse about us, I doubt if a solitary person re- 
marked our sudden appearance among them. Plop ! 
We must have appeared abruptly. We ceased to 
smoulder almost at once, though the turf beneath me 
was uncomfortably hot. The attention of everyone, 
including even the Amusements' Association Band, 
which on this occasion, for the only time in its history, 
got out of tune, was arrested by the amazing fact, 
and the still more amazing yapping and uproar 
caused by the fact that a respectable, overfed lapdog 
sleeping quietly to the east of the bandstand should 
suddenly fall through the parasol of a lady on the 
west — in a slightly singed condition due to the ex- 
treme velocity of its movements through the air. 
In these absurd days, too, when we are all trying 
to be as psychic, and silly, and superstitious as 
possible! People got up and trod on other people, 
chairs were overturned, the Leas policeman ran. 
How the matter settled itself I do not know — we 
were much too anxious to disentangle ourselves 
from the affair and get out of range of the eye of 
the old gentleman in the bath-chair to make minute 
inquiries. As soon as we were sufficiently cool and 
sufficiently recovered from our giddiness and nausea 
and confusion of mind to do so we stood up and, 
skirting the crowd, directed our steps back along 
the road below the Metropole towards Gibberne's 
house. But amidst the din I heard very distinctly 
the gentleman who had been sitting beside the lady 
of the ruptured sunshade using quite unjustifiable 
threats and language to one of those chair-attend- 
ants who have "inspector" written on their caps. 
"If you didn't throw the dog," he said, "who did?" 

The sudden return of movement and familiar 
noises, and our natural anxiety about ourselves (our 
clothes were still dreadfully hot, and the fronts of 
the thighs of Gibberne's white trousers were 
scorched a drabbish brown), prevented the minute 
observations I should have liked to make on all these 
things. Indeed, I really made no observations of 
any scientific value on that return. The bee, of 
course, had gone. I looked for that cyclist, but he 
was already out of sight as we came into the Upper 
Sandgate Road or hidden from us by traffic; the 
char-a-banc, however, with its people now all alive 
and stirring, was clattering along at a spanking 
pace almost abreast of the nearer church. 

We noted, however, that the window-sill on which 
we had stepped in getting out of the house was 
slightly singed, and that the impressions of our 
feet on the gravel of the path were unusually deep. 

So it was I had my first experience of the New 
Accelerator. Practically we had been running about 
and saying and doing all sorts of things in the space 
of a second or so of time. We had lived half an 
hour while the hand had played, perhaps two bars. 
But the effect it had upon us was that the whole 
world had stopped for our convenient inspection. 
Considering all things, and particularly considering 
our rashness in venturing out of the house, the 
experience might certainly have been much more 
disagreeable than it was. It showed, no doubt, 
that Gibberne has still much to learn before hia 
(Continued on page 96) 



ffi MAN from the ATOM 

IbifCj. "Peyton c Wertenba\er 




AM a lost soul, and I 

am homesick. Yes, 

homesick. Yet how 

vain is homesickness 

when one is without 
a home ! I can but be siek for a 
home that has gone. For my 
home departed millions of years 
ago, and there is now not even a 
trace of its former existence. 
Millions of years ago, I say, in 
all truth and earnestness. But 
I must tell the tale— though there 
is no man left to understand it. 

I well remember that morning 
when my friend, Professor Mar- 
tyn, called me to him on a matter 
of the greatest importance. I 
may explain that the Pre 
was one of those mysterious out- 
casts, geniuses whom Science 
would not recognize because they 
scorned the pettiness of the men 
who represented Science. Mar- 
tyn was first of all a scientist, 
but almost as equally he was a 
man of intense imagination, and 
where the ordinary man crept 
along from detail to de- 
tail and required a 
complete model before 
being able to visualize 
the results of his work, 
Professor Martyn first 
grasped the great re- 
sults of his contempla- 
ted work, the vast, far- 
reaching effects, and 
then built with the end 
in view. 

The Professor had 
few friends. Ordinary 
men avoided him be- 
cause they were unable 

t o understand the cheerfully u i, »t<^' ed hi ^*\ 
greatness of his vision. ° my 8 """ '-■-'"' 
Where he plainly saw 

pictures of worlds and universes, they vainly groped 
among pictures of his words on printed pages. That 
was their impression of a word. A group of letters. 
His was of the picture it presented in his mind. I, 
however, though I had not the slightest claim to 
scientific knowledge, was romantic to a high degree, 
and always willing to carry out his strange experi- 
ments for the sake of the adventure and the 
strangeness of it all, And so the advantages were 
equal. I had a mysterious personage ready to fur- 



nish me with the unusual. He had a willing sub- 
ject to try out his inventions, for he reasoned quite 
naturally that should he himself perform the ex- 
periments, the world would be in danger of losing 
a mentality it might eventually have need of. 

And so it was that I hurried to him without the 
slightest hesitation upon that, to me, momentous 
day of days in my life. I little realized the great 
change that soon would come over my existence, yet 
I knew that I was in for an adventure, certainly 



62 



THE MAN FROM THE ATOM 



63 



startling, possibly fatal. I had no delusions con- 
cerning my luck. 

I found Professor Martyn in his laboratory bend- 
ing, with the eyes of a miser counting his gold, over 
a tiny machine that might easily have fitted in my 
pocket. He did not see me for a moment, but when 
he finally looked up with a sigh of regret that he 
must tear his eyes away from his new and wonder- 
ful brain-child, whatever it might be, he waved me 
a little unsteadily into a chair, and sank down in 
one himself, with the machine in his lap. I waited, 
placing myself in what I considered a receptive 
mood. 

"Kirby," he began abruptly at last, "have you 
ever read your Alice in Wonderland?" I gasped, 
perhaps, in my surprise. 

"Alice in — 1 are you joking, Professor?" 

"Certainly not," he assured me. "I speak in all 



"Why, yes, I have read it many times. In fact, 
it has always struck me as a book to appeal more to 
an adult than to a child. But what — I can't see just 
how that is important." He smiled. 

"Perhaps I am playing with you unduly," he said, 
"but do you remember the episode of the two pieces 
of cheese, if my own recollection is correct, one of 
which made one grow, the other shrink?" 

I assented. "But," I said incredulously, "certainly 
you cannot tell me you have spent your time in pre- 
paring magical cheeses?" He laughed aloud this 
time, and then, seeing my discomfort, unburdened 
himself of his latest triumph. 

"No Kirby, not just that, but I have indeed con- 
structed a machine that you will be incapable of be- 
lieving until you try it. With this little object in 
my lap, you could grow forever, until there was 
nothing left in the universe to surpass. Or you 
could shrink so as to observe the minutest of atoms, 
standing upon it as you now stand upon the earth. 
It 13 an invention that will make scientific knowl- 
edge perfect !" He halted 
with flushed face and 
gleaming eyes. I could 
find nothing to say, for 
the thing was col loss al, 
magnificent in its possi- 
bilities. If it worked. But 
I could not resist a suspi- 
cion of so tiny a machine. 

"Professor, are you in 
absolute earnest?" I cried. 

"Have I ever jested 
about so wonderful a 
thing?" he retorted quietly. I knew he had not. 

"But surely that is merely a model?" 

"It is the machine itself!" 

II 

I was too astounded to speak at first. But finally, 
"Tell me about it," ~I gasped. "This is certainly the 
most fantastic invention you have made yet! How 
does it work?" 

"I am afraid," suggested Professor Martyn, "that 
you could not understand all the technical details. 
It is horribly complicated. And besides, I am anx- 
ious to try it out. But I will give you an idea of it. 

"Of course, you know that an object may be divi- 



TN "Alice w the Looking Glass" the beautiful play of 
i_ fancy which gave hnmoria! fame lo a logician and 
mathematician wc read of the mysterious change in 
sice of the heroine, the charming Utile Alice. II tells 
haw she grew large and small according to what she 
ate. But here we have increase in she and pushed to 
its utmost limit. Here wc have treated the growth of a 
man to cosmic dimensions. And me are told of his 
strange sensation and arc led up la a sudden startling 
and impressive conclusion, and arc taken through the 
picture of his emotions and despair. 



ded in half forever, as you have learned in high 
school, without being entirely exhausted. It is 
this principle that is used in shrinking. I hardly 
understand the thing's mechanism myself — it was 
the result of an accident — but I know that the ma- 
chine not only divides every atom, every molecule, 
every electron of the body into two exactly equal 
parts, but it accomplishes the same feat in itself, 
thus keeping pace with its manipulator. The matter 
it removes from the body is reduced to a gaseous 
form, and left in the air. There are six wires that 
you do not see, which connect with the body, while 
the machine itself is placed on the chest, held by 
a small belt that carries wires to the front of the 
body where the two controlling buttons are placed. 
"When the user wishes to grow, he presses the 
upper button, and the machine then extracts atoms 
from the air which it converts, by a reverse method 
from the first, into atoms identical to certain others 
in the body, the two atoms thus formed joining into 
one large particle of twice the original size. 

"As I said, I have little idea of my invention ex- 
cept that it works by means of atomic energy. I 
was intending to make an atomic energy motor, 
when I observed certain parts to increase and 
diminish strangely in size. It was practically by 
blind instinct that I have worked the thing up. 
And now I fear I shall not be able to discover the 
source of my atomic energy until I can put together, 
with great care, another such machine, for I am 
afraid to risk taking this apart for analysis." 

"And I," I said suddenly, with the awe I felt for 
such a discovery quite perceptible, I fear, in my 
tone, "I am to try out this machine?" 

"If you are willing," he said simply. "You must 
realize, of course, that there are a multitude of un- 
known dangers. I know nothing of the complete 
effects of the machine. But my experiments on in- 
animate objects have seemed satisfactory." 

"I am willing to take any risks," I said enthu- 
siastically, "If you are 
willing to risk your great 
machine. Why, don't you 
realize, Professor, that 
this will revolutionize 
Science? There is noth- 
ing, hardly, that will be 
unknown. Astronomy will 
be complete, for there will 
be nothing to do but to in- 
crease in size enough to 
observe beyond our at- 
mosphere, or one could 
stand upon worlds like rocks to examine others." 
"Exactly. I have calculated that the effect of a 
huge foot covering whole countries would be slight, 
so equally distributed would the weights be. Prob- 
ably it would rest upon tall buildings and trees 
with ease. But in space, of course, no support 
should be necessary. 

"And then, as you said, one could shrink until 
the mysteries of electrons would be revealed. Of 
course, there would be danger in descending into 
apparent nothingness, not knowing where a new 
world-atom could be found upon which to stand. 
But dangers must be risked." 

"But now, Kirby," remarked the Professor offi- 
cially, "time passes, and I should like you to make 



6+ 



AMAZING STORIES 



your little journey soon that I may quickly know 
its results. Have you any affairs you would like 
to put in order, in case — " 

"None," I said. I was always ready for these ex- 
periments. And though this promised to be magni- 
ficently momentous, I was all ready. "No, if I re- 
turn in a few hours, I shall find everything all right. 
If not, I am still prepared." He beamed in ap- 
proval. 

"Fine. Of course you understand that our ex- 
periment must take place at some 3ecluded spot. 
If you are ready, we can proceed at once to a coun- 
try laboratory of mine that will, I think, be safe." 

I assented, and we hastily donned our overcoats, 
the Professor spending a moment or two collecting 
some necessary apparatus. Then we packed the ma- 
chine in a safe box, and left his home. 

"Are you all ready, Kirby?" The Professor's 
voice was firm, but my practiced ear could detect 
the slightest vibrations that indicated to me his in- 
tense inner feelings. I hesitated a moment. I was 
not afraid of going. Never that. But there seemed 
something partaking almost of finality about this 
departure. It was different from anything I had 
ever felt before. 

"All ready, Professor," I said cheerfully after a 
brief moment. 

"Are you going to magnify or minimize your- 
self?" 

"It shall be growth," I answered, without a mo- 
ment's hesitation there. The stars, and what lay 
beyond. ... It was that I cared for. The Profes- 
sor looked at me earnestly, deeply engrossed in 
thought. Finally he said, "Kirby, if you are to 
make an excursion into interstellar space, you 
realize that not only would you freeze to death, but 
also die from' lack of air." 

Walking to a cabinet in the rear of the room, he 
opened it and withdrew from it some strange look- 
ing paraphernalia. "This," he said, holding up a 
queer looking suit, "is made of a great quantity of 
interlocking metal cells, hermetically sealed, from 
which the air has been completely exhausted so as 
to give the cells a high vacuum. These separate 
cells are then woven into the fabric. When you 
wear this suit, you will, in fact, be enclosed in a 
sort of thermos bottle. No heat can leave this suit, 
and the most intensive cold cannot penetrate 
through it." 

I quickly got into the suit, which was not as heavy 
as one might imagine. It covered not only the en- 
tire body, but the feet and hands as well, the hand 
part being a sort of mitten. 

After I had gotten into the suit, the Professor 
placed over my head a sort of transparent dome 
which he explained was made of strong unbreak- 
able bakelite. The globe itself really was made of 
several globes, one within the other. The globes 
only touched at the lower rim. The interstices 
where the globes did not touch formed a vacuum, 
the air having been drawn from the spaces. Conse- 
quently heat could not escape from the transparent 
head piece nor could the cold come in. From the 
back of this head gear, a flexible tube led into the 
interior ; this tube being connected to a small com- 
pressed oxygen tank, which the Professor strapped 
to my back. 

He then placed the wonder machine with its row 



of buttons on my chest, and cunnected the six wires 
to the arms and other parts of my body. 

Professor Martyn grasped my hand then, and 
said in his firm, quiet voice: 

"Then goodbye, Kirby, for awhile. Press the first 
button when you are ready to go. May the Fates 
be with you!" 

The Professor nest placed the transparent head 
gear over my head and secured it with attachments 
to my vacuum suit. A strange feeling of quietness 
and solitude came over me. While I could still see 
the Professor, I could hear him talk no longer as 
sounds cannot pierce a vacuum. Once more the 
Professor shook my hand warmly. 

Then, somehow, I found myself pressing down 
the uppermost of three buttons. Instantly there 
was a tingling, electric flash all through my body. 
Martyn, trees, distant buildings, all seemed to shoot 
away into nothingness. Almost in panic, 1 pushed 
the middle button. I stopped. I could not help it, 
for this disappearing of all my world acted upon my 
consciousness. I -had a strange feeling that I was 
leaving forever. ■ 

I looked down; and Professor Martyn, a tiny 
speck in an automobile far below, waved up to me 
cheerfully as he started his car and began to speed 
away. He was fleeing the immediate danger of my 
growth, when my feet would begin to cover an im- 
mense area, until 1 could be almost entirely in space. 
I gathered my courage quickly, fiercely, and pressed 
the top button again. Once more the earth began 
to get smaller, little by little, but faster. A ting- 
ling sensation was all over me, exhilarating if al- 
most painful where the wires were connected upon 
my forearms, my legs, about the forehead, and upon 
my chest. 

It did never seem as though I was changing, but 
rather that the world was shrinking away, faster 
and faster. The clouds were falling upon me with 
threatening swiftness, until my head broke suddenly 
through them, and my body was obscured, and the 
earth below, save tiny glimpses,' as though of a dis- 
tant landscape through a fog. Far away I could 
see a few tall crags that broke through even as had 
I, scorning from their majestic height the world be- 
low. Now indeed, if never before, was my head 
"among the clouds!" 

But even the clouds were going. I began to get 
an idea of the earth as a great ball of thick cloud. 
There was a pricking sensation beneath my feet, 
as though I stood upon pine needles. It gave me a 
feeling of power to know that these were trees and 
hills. 

I began to feel insecure, as though my support 
were doing something stealthy beneath me. Have 
you ever seen an elephant perform upon a little roll- 
ing ball? Well that is how I felt. The earth was 
rotating, while I no longer could move upon it. 
While I pondered, watching in some alarm as it be- 
came more and more like a little ball a few feet 
thick, it took matters in its own hand. My feet 
slipped off, suddenly, and I was lying absolutely 
motionless, powerless to move, in space! 

I watched the earth awhile as it shrank, and even 
observed it now as it moved about the sun. I could 
see other planets that had grown at first a trifle 
larger and were now getting smaller again, about 
the same size as the earth, tiny balls of no 



THE MAN FROM THE ATOM 



65 



more than a couple of inches in diameter. . . . 

It was getting much darker. The sun no longer 
gave much light, for there was no atmosphere to 
diffuse it. It was a great blinding ball of fire near 
my feet now, and the planets were traveling -about 
it swiftly. I could see the light reflected on one 
side, dark on the other, on each planet. The sun 
could be seen to move perceptibly too, though very 
slightly. As my feet grew larger, threatening to 
touch it, I hastily drew them up with ease and hung 
suspended in the sky in a half-sitting position as I 
grew. 

Turning my head away all at once, I observed 
in some surprise that some of the stars were grow- 
ing larger, coming nearer and nearer. For a time 
I watched their swift approach, but they gradually 
seemed to be getting smaller rather than larger. I 
looked again at my own system. To my amazement, 
it had moved what seemed about a yard from its 
former position, and was much smaller. The planets 
I saw no longer, but there were faint streaks of 
light in circles about the sun, and I understood that 
these were the tracks of the worlds that now moved 
about their parent too swiftly to be followed with 
the eye. 

I could see all the stars moving hither and yon 
now, although they still continued to appear closer 
and closer together. I found a number lying prac- 
tically on the plane of my chest, but above that they 
seemed to cease. I could now see no planets, only 
the tiny sun moving farther and farther, faster and 
faster along its path. I could discern, it seemed 
to me, a trend in its and its companions' path. For 
on one side they seemed to be going one way, and 
the opposite way on the other. In front, they seemed 
to move across my vision. Gradually I came to un- 
derstand that this was a great circle swinging vast- 
ly about me, faster and faster. 

I had grown until the stars were circling now 
about my legs. I seemed to be the center of a huge 
vortex. And they were coming closer and closer 
together, as though to hem me about. Yet I could 
not move all of me away. I could only move my 
limbs and head in relation to ray stationary body. 
The nearest star, a tiny bright speck, was a few 
yards away. My own sun was like a bright period 
upon a blackboard. But the stars were coming 
nearer and nearer. It seemed necessary for me to 
move somehow, so I drew my legs up and shot them 
out with all my force. I began to move slowly 
away, having acted upon what little material sub- 
stance there was in the ether. * 

The stars were soon only a few feet .apart below 
me, then a few inches, and suddenly, looking out 
beyond them, I was struck with the fact that they 
seemed to be a great group, isolated from a number 
of far distant blotches that were apart from these. 
The stars were moving with incredible swiftness 
now about a center near which was what I imagined 
to be the sun, though I had lost track of it somehow. 
They merged closer and closer together, the vast 
group shrunk more and more, until finally they had 
become indistinguishable as entities. They were all 
part of a huge cloud now, that seemed somehow 
familiar. What did it suggest? It was pale, dif- 
fused at the ends, but thick and white in the center, 
like a nebul — a nebula ! That was it ! A great light 
broke over me. All these stars were part of a great 



system that formed a nebula. It explained the mys- 
tery of the nebulae. 

And there were now other nebulae approaching, 
as this grew smaller. They took on the resemblance 
of stars, and they began to repeat the process of 
closing in as the stars had done. The stars, uni- 
verses within universes! And those universes but 
nebulae in another great universe 1 Suddenly I be- 
gan to wonder. Could there be nothing more in 
infinity than universe after universe, each a part 
of another greater one 7 So it would seem. Yet the . 
spell was .upon me and I was not ready to admit 
such simplicity yet. I must go on. And my earth ! 
It could not even be found, this sphere that had 
itself seemed almost the universe. 

But my growth was terribly fast now. The other 
nebulae were merging, it would seem at first, upon 
me. But my slow progress through space became 
faster as I grew larger, and even as they came upon 
me, like flying arrows now, I shot above them. Then 
they, too, merged. The result was a vast nucleus 
of glowing material. 

A great light began to grow all about me. Above 
I suddenly observed, far away, a huge brightness 
that seemed to extend all over the universe. But it 
began definitely. It was as though one were in a 
great ball, and the nebulae, a sunlike body now, 
were in the center. But as I became larger with 
every instant, the Toof-like thing diffused, even a3 
before things had converged, and formed into separ- 
ate bodies, like stars. I passed through them final- 
ly, and they came together again behind me as I 
shot away, another great body. 

A coincidence suddenly struck me. Was not this 
system of a great ball effect with a nucleus within 
similar to what the atom was said to be? Could 
the nucleus and its great shell be opposite poles of 
electrical energy, then? In other words, was this 
an electron — a huge electron composed of univer- 
ses? The idea was terrible in its magnitude, some- 
thing too huge for comprehension. 

And so I grew on. Many more of these electrons, 
if such they were, gathered together, but my luck 
held and I passed beyond this new body thus formed 
— a molecule? I wondered. Suddenly I tired of the 
endless procession of stars coming together, form- 
ing ever into new stars that came together too. I 
was getting homesick. I wanted to see human 
faces about me again, to be rid of this fantastic 
nightmare. It was unreal. It was impossible. It 
must stop. 

A sudden impulse of fear took hold upon me. 
This should not go on forever. I had to see my 
earth again. AH at once, I reached down, and 
pressed the central button to stop. 

But just as a swiftly moving vehicle may not 
stop at once, so could not I. The terrific momentum 
of my growth carried me on, and the machine 
moved still, though slower* The stars seemed shoot- 
ing upon me, closing about me. I could see no end 
of them before me. I must stop or they would be 
about me. 

Closer in they came, but smaller and smaller. 
They became a thousand pinpoints shooting about 
me. They merged into a thick, tenuous cloud about 
me, thicker and thicker. I was shooting up now, 
but my growth had stopped. The cloud became a 
cold, clammy thing that yielded to the touch, and— 



66 



AMAZING STORIES 



and it was water! Yes, pure water! And I was 
floating in it. . . . 

Years 

Suddenly I shot up, out of the water, and fell 
back. Strength returned to me, and warmth, and 
love of life. It was water, something I knew, some- 
thing familiar, a friend. And so I swam, swam on 
and on, until ray feet touched bottom, and I was 
leaping forth out of the water, on to the sand. . . . 

IV 

There is no need to drag the tale out. I awoke 
finally from an exhausted sleep, and found myself 
in a world that was strange, yet familiar. It might 
have been a lonely part of the earth, except for an 
atmosphere of strangeness that told me subcon- 
sciously it was another world. There was a sun, 
but it was far distant, no larger than my moon. 
And vast clouds of steam hung over the jungles be- 
yond the sand, obscuring them in a shimmering 
fog, obscuring the sun so that it danced and glim- 
mered hazily through the curtain. And a perpetual 
twilight thus reigned. 

I tried to tell myself I was in some strange man- 
ner home. But I knew I was not. At last, break- 
ing beneath the weight of homesickness and regret, 
I surrendered to a fit of weeping that shamed my 
manhood even as I wept. Then a mood of terrible, 
unreasoning anger against Fate enveloped me, and 
I stormed here and there about the beach. 

And so, all through the night, I alternately wept 
and raged, and when the dawn came I sank again 
in peaceful slumber. . . . 

When I awoke, I was calm. Obviously, in stop- 
ping I told myself I had been left in a cloud of 
atoms that proved to be part of another group of 
matter, another earth or atom, as you will. The 
particular atoms I was in were part of the ocean. 

The only thing to do was to return. I was asham- 
ed of my madness now, for I had the means of re- 
turn. In the third button . . . the bottom button. 
I saw no reason for delay. I splashed back into the 
water, and swam hastily out to the point where it 
seemed I had risen. ' I pushed the lowest button. 
Slowly I felt myself grow smaller and smaller, the 
sense of suffocation returned, only to pass away as 
the pinpoints shot about me again, but away this 
time. The whole nightmare was repeated now, re- 
versed, for everything seemed to be opening up be- 
fore me. I thrilled with joy as I thought of my re- 
turn to my home, and the Professor again. All the 
world was friend to me now, in my thoughts, a 
friend I could not bear to lose. 

And then all my hopes were dashed. How, I 
thought, could I strike my own earth again? For 
even if I had come to the right spot in the water 
to a certainty, how could I be sure I would pass be- 
tween just the right cloud of molecules? And what 
would lead me to the very electron I had left? And, 
after the nucleus, why should I not enter the wrong 
nebula? And even if I should hit the right nebula, 
how should I find my own star, my own earth? It 
was hopeless, impossible! . . . And yet, so consti- 
tuted is human nature that I could hope neverthe- 
less! 

My God! Impossible as it is, I did it! I am cer- 



tain that it was my own nebula I entered, and I was 
in the center, where the sun should be. It sounds 
fantastic, it is fantastic. The luck of a lifetime, an 
infinity, for me. Or so it should have been. But I 
looked where the sun ought to be found, in the cen- 
tral cluster. I halted early and watched long with 
a sinking heart. But the sun — was gone! 

I lay motionless in the depths of space and I 
watched idly the stars that roamed here and there. 
Black despair was in my heart, but it was a despair 
so terrible that 1 could not comprehend its awful- 
ness. It was beyond human emotion. And I was- 
dazed, perhaps even a little mad. 

The stars were tiny pinpoints of light, and they 
shot back and forth and all around like purposeless 
nothings. And ever would they collide, and a great- 
er pinpoint would be born, or a thousand pieces of 
fragments would result. Or the two might start off 
on new tracks, only to collide again. Seconds it 
took them to cover what I knew to be billions of 
trillions of light-years. 

And gradually the truth dawned upon me, the 
awful truth. These stars were suns, even as mine 
had been, and they grew and died and were reborn, 
it seemed now, in a second, all in a second. Yet fair 
races bloomed and died, and worlds lived and died, 
races of intelligent beings : strove, only to die. All 
in a second. But it was not a second to them. My 
immense size was to blame on my part. 

For time is relative, and depends upon size. The 
smaller a creature, the shorter its life. And yet, to 
itself, the fly that lives but a day has passed a life- 
time of years. So it was here. Because I bad grown 
large, centuries had become but moments to me. 
And the faster, the larger I grew, the swifter the 
years, the millions of years had rolled away. I re- 
membered how I had seen the streaks that meant 
the planets going about the sun. So fast had they 
revolved that I could not see the circuit that meant 
but a second to me. And yet each incredibly swift 
revolution had been a year! A year on earth, a 
second to me! And so, on an immensely greater 
scale, had it been as I grew. The few minutes that 
meant to me the sun's movement through the ether 
of what seemed a yard had been centuries to the 
earth. Before I had lived ten minutes of my strange 
existence, Professor Martyn had vainly hoped away 
a lifetime, and died in bitter despair. Men had 
come and died, races had flourished and fallen. Per- 
haps all mankind had died away from a world strip- 
ped of air and water. In ten minutes of my life. . . 

And so I sit here now, pining hopelessly for my 
Mother Earth. This strange planet of a strange 
star i3 all beyond my ken. The men are strange and 
their customs, curious. Their language is beyond 
my every effort to comprehend, yet mine they know 
like a book. I find myself a savage, a creature to 
be treated with pity and contempt in a world too 
advanced even for his comprehension. Nothing 
here means anything to me. 

I live here on sufferance, as an ignorant African 
might have lived in an incomprehensible, to him, 
London. A strange creature, to play with and to 
be played with by children. A clown ... a savage 
. . . ! And yearn as I will for my earth, 1 know I 
may never know it again, for it was gone, forgotten, 
non-existent a trillion centuries ago. . . .! 



THE END OF FART ONE 



ffie THING from ~ OUTSIDE* 

m (Onf (jeorcfe cAllen £ngland « 





$HEY sat about their camp-fire, that 

little party of Americans retreating 

southward from Hudson Bay before 

the on-coming menace of the great 

cold. Sat there, stolid „^^^^^ m ^ t ^^ 

under the awe of the North, 

under the uneasiness that the 

day's trek had laid upon their 

souls. The three men smoked. 

The two women huddled close to 

each other. Fireglow picked 

their faces from the gloom of 

night among the dwarf firs. A 

splashing murmur told of the 

Albany River's haste to escape 



where they were." 

"Something surely happened to our guides, be- 
fore they'd got a mile into the bush," put in the 



Professor's wife; 



from the wilderness, and reach 
the Bay. 

"I don't see what there was in 
a mere circular print on a rock- 
ledge to make our guides desert," 
said Professor Thorburn. His 
voice was as dry as his whole 
personality. "Most extraordi- 
nary." 

"They knew what it was, all 
right," answered Jandron, geol- 
ogist of the party. "So do I." 
He rubbed his cropped mustache. His eyes glinted 
grayly. I've seen prints like that before. That was 
on the Labrador. And I've seen things happen. 



T" TEIZE is an extraordinary story 
_£ J by the well-hiown magazine 
writer, George Allan England. 
This story should be read quite care- 
fully, and it is necessary to use one's 

;';:;, iii ;';:,. ';';'!';: in reading it. 

The theme of Mr. England's Story 
is unusual and extraordinary. If it*?, 
rim take insects and put them upon the 
dissecting table in order to study their 
anatomy, is there a good reason why 
some supcr-InteUigencc cannot do the 
same thing with us humans? 

It may be taken as a certainty that 
IntelUgnice, as roe understand it, is 
not only of our earth. It is also not 
necessary to presume that Intelligence 
may have its setting only in a body of 
flesh and blood. 

There is no reason for disbelieving 
that a Super-Intelligence might not 
reside in gases or Invisible structures, 
something which we of today cannot 



while Vivian, her sister, 
into the fire that revealed her 
as a beauty, not to be spoiled 
even by a tam and a rough-knit 
sweater. "Men don't shoot wild- 
ly, and scream like that, un- 
less — " 

"They're all three dead now, 
anyhow," put in Jandron. "So 
they're out of harm's way. While 
we— well, we're two hundred and 
fifty wicked miles from the C. 
P. K. rails." 

"Forget it, Jandy!" said Marr, 
the journalist. "We're just suf- 
fering from an attack of nerves, 
that's all. Give me a fill of 
'baccy. Thanks. We'll all be bet- 
ter in the morning. Ho-hum! 
Now, speaking of spooks and 
such — " 

He launched into an account 
of how he had once exposed a 
fraudulent spiritualist, thus 
proving — to his own satisfaction — that nothing 
existed beyond the scope of mankind's everyday 
life. But nobody gave him much heed. And silence 



67 



68 



AMAZING STORIES 



fell upon the little night-encampment in the wilds; 
a silence that was ominous. 

Pale, cold stars watched down from spaces in- 
finitely far beyond man's trivial world. 

Next day, stopping for chow on a ledge miles up- 
stream, Jandron discovered another of the prints. 
He cautiously summoned the other two men. They 
examined the print, while the women-folk were busy 
by the fire. A harmless thing the marking seemed ; 
only a ring about four inches in diameter, a kind of 
cup-shaped depression with a raised center. A sort 
of glaze coated it, as if the granite had been fused 
by heat. 

Jandron knelt, a well-knit figure in bright macki- 
naw and canvas leggings, and with a shaking finger 
explored the smooth curve of the print in the rock. 
His brows contracted as he studied it. 

"We'd better get along out of this as quick as we 
can," said he in an unnatural voice. "You've got 
your wife to protect, Thorburn, and I, — well, I've 
got Vivian. And — " 

"You have?" nipped Marr. The light of an evil 
jealously gleamed in his heavy-lidded look. "What 
you need is an alienist." 

"Really, Jandron," the Professor admonished, 
"you mustn't let your imagination run away with 
you." ' 

"I suppose it's imagination that keeps this print 
cold!" the geologist retorted. His breath made 
faint, swirling coils of vapor above it. 

"Nothing but a pot-hole," judged Thorburn, bend- 
ing his spare, angular body to examine the print. 
The Professor's vitality all seeiaed centered in his 
big-bulged skull that sheltered a marvellous think- 
ing machine. Now he put his lean hand to the 
base of his brain, rubbing the back of his head as 
if it ached. Then, under what seemed some power- 
ful compulsion, he ran his bony finger around the 
print in the rock. 

"By Jove, but it is cold!" he admitted. "And 
looks as if it had been stamped right out of the 
stone. Extraordinary!" 

"Dissolved out, you mean," corrected the geolo- 
gist. "By cold." 

The journalist laughed mockingly. 

"Wait till I write this up!" he sneered. "'Noted 
Geologist Declares Frigid Ghost Dissolves Gran- 
ite!'" 

Jandron ignored him. He fetched a little water 
from the river and poured it into the print. 

"Ice!" ejaculated the Professor. "Solid ice!" 

"Frozen in a second," added Jandron, while Marr 
frankly stared. "And it'll never melt, either. I tell 
you, I've seen some of these rings before; and 
every time, horrible things have happened. Incred- 
ible things! Something burned this ring out of 
the stone — burned it out with the cold interstellar 
space. Something that can import cold as a perma- 
nent quality of matter. Something that can kill 
matter, and totally remove it." 

"Of course that's all sheer poppycock," the jour- 
nalist tried to laugh, but his brain felt numb. 

"This something, this Thing," continued Jandron, 
"is a Thing that can't be killed by bullets. It's 
what caught our guides on the barrens, as they ran 
away — poor fools!" 

A shadow fell across the print in the rock. Mrs. 
Thorburn had come up, was standing there. She 



had overheard a little of what Jandron had heetf 
saying. 

"Nonsense!" she tried to exclaim, but she was 
shivering so she could hardly speak. 

That night, after a long afternoon of paddling 
and portaging — laboring against inhibitions like 
those in a nightmare- — they camped on shelving 
rocks that slanted to the river. 

"After all," said the Professor, when supper was 
done, "we mustn't get into a panic. I know extra- 
ordinary things are reported from the wilderness, 
and more than one man has come out, raving. But 
we, by Jove! with our superior brains — we aren't 
going to let Nature play us any tricks!" 

"And of course," added his wife, her arm about 
Vivian, "everything in the universe is a natural 
force. There's really no super-natural, at all." 

"Admitted," Jandron replied. "But how about 
things outside the universe?" 

"And they call you a scientist?" gibed Mai'r; but 
the Professor leaned forward, his brows knit. 

"Hm!" he grunted. A little silence fell. 

"You don't mean, really," asked Vivian, "that 
you think there's life and intelligence — Outside?" 

Jandron looked at the girl. Her beauty, haloed 
with ruddy gold from the firelight, was a pain to 
him as he answered: 

"Yes, I do. And dangerous life, too. I know what 
I've seen, in the North Country. I know what I've 
seen!" 

Silence again, save for the crepitation of the 
flames, the fall of an ember, the murmur of the 
current. Darkness narrowed the wilderness to just 
that circle of flickering light ringed by the forest 
and the river, brooded over by the pale stars. 

"Of course you can't expect a scientific man to 
take you seriously," commented the Professor. 

"I know what I've seen! I tell you there's Some- 
thing entirely outside man's knowledge." 

"Poor fellow!" scoffed the journalist; but even as 
he spoke his hand pressed his forehead. 

"There are Things at work," Jandron affirmed, 
with dogged persistence. He lighted his pipe with 
a blazing twig. Its flame revealed his face drawn, 
lined. "Things. Things that reckon with us no 
more than we do with ants. Less, perhaps." 

The flame of the twig died. Night stood closer, 
watching. 

"Suppose there are?" the girl asked. "What's that 
got to do with these prints in the rock?" 

"They," answered Jandran, "are marks left by 
one of those Things. Footprints, maybe. That 
Thing is near us, here and now!" 

Marr's laugh broke a long stillness. 

"And you," he exclaimed, "with an A. M. and a 
B. S. to write after your name," 

"If you knew more," retorted Jandron, "you'd 
know a devilish sight less. It's only ignorance that's 
cock-sure." 

"But," dogmatized the Professor, "no scientist of 
any standing has ever admitted any outside inter- 
ference with this planet." 

"No, and for thousands of years nobody ever ad- 
mitted that the world was round, either. What I've 
seen, I know." 

"Well, what have you seen?" asked Mrs. Thor- 
burn, shivering. 

"You'll excuse me, please, for not going into that 
just now," 



THE THING FROM— "OUTSIDE" 



69 



"You mean," the Professor demanded, dryly, "if 
the — hm! — this suppositious Thing wants to-—?" 

"It'll do any infernal thing it takes a fancy to, 
yes ! If it happens to want us — " 

"But what could Things like that want of us? 
Why should They come here, at all?" 

"Oh, for various reasons. For inanimate objects, 
at times, and then again for living beings. They've 
come here lots of times, I tell you," Jandron as- 
serted with strange irritation, "and got what They 
wanted, and then gone away to — Somewhere. If 
one of Them happens to want us, for any reason, 
It will take us, that's all. If It doesn't want us, It 
will ignore us, as we'd ignore gorillas in Africa if 
we were looking for gold. But if it was gorilla- 
fur we wanted, that would be different for the 
gorillas, wouldn't it?" 

"What in the world," asked Vivian, "could a — 
well, a Thing from Outside want of Ms?" 

"What do men want, say, of guinea-pigs? Men 
experiment with 'em, of course. Superior beings 
use inferior, for their own ends. To assume that 
man is the supreme product of evolution is gross 
self-conceit. Might not some superior Thing want 
to experiment with human beings? 

"But how?" demanded Marr, 

"The human brain is the most highly-organized 
form of matter known to this planet. Suppose, 
now — " 

"Nonsense!" interrupted the Professor. "All 
hands to the sleeping-bags, and no more of this. 
I've got a wretched headache. Let's anchor in Blan- 
ket Bay!" 

He, and both the women, turned in. Jandron and 
Marr sat a while longer by the fire. They kept 
plenty of wood piled on it, too, for an unnatural 
chill transfixed the night-air. The fire burned 
strangely blue, with greenish flicks of flame. 

At length, after vast acerbities of disagreement, 
the geologist and the newspaperman sought their 
sleeping-bags. The fire was. a comfort. Not that 
a fire could avail a pin's weight against a Thing 
from interstellar space, but subjectively it was a 
comfort. The instincts of a million years, center- 
ing around protection by fire, cannot be obliterated. 

After a time — worn out by a day of nerve-strain 
and of battling with swift currents, of flight from 
Something invisible, intangible — they all slept. 

The depths of space, star-sprinkled, hung above 
them with vastness immeasurable, cold beyond all 
understanding of the human mind. 

Jandron woke first, in a red dawn. 

He blinked at the fire, as he crawled from his 
sleeping-bag. The fire was dead; and yet it had 
not burned out. Much wood remained unconsumed, 
charred over, as if some gigantic extinguisher had 
in the night been lowered over it. 

"Hmwm!" growled Jandron. He glanced about 
him, on the ledge. "Prints, too. I might have 
known !" 

He aroused Marr. Despite all the jouralist's 
mocking hostility, Jandron felt more in common 
with this man of his own age than with the Pro- 
fessor, who was close on sixty. 

"Look here, now!" said he. "/( has been all around 
here. See? It put out our fire — maybe the fire an- 
noyed /(, some way — and It walked round us, every- 
where." His gray eye3 smouldered. "I guess, by 
gad, you've got to admit facts, now!" 



The journalist could only shiver and stare. 

"Lord, what a head I've got on me, this morning I" 
he chattered. He rubbed his forehead with a shak- 
ing hand, and started for the river. Most of his 
assurance had vanished. He looked badly done 
up. 

"Well, what say?" demanded Jandron. "See these 
fresh prints?" 

"Damn the prints!" retorted Marr, and fell to 
grumbling some unintelligible thing. He washed 
unsteadily, and remained crouching at the river's 
lip, inert, numbed. 

Jandron, despite a gnawing at the base of his, 
brain, carefully examined the ledge. He found 
prints scattered everywhere, and some even on the 
river-bottom near the shore. Wherever water had 
collected in the prints on the rock, it had frozen 
hard. Each print in the river-bed, too, was white 
with ice. Ice that the rushing current could not 
melt. 

"Well, by gad!" he exclaimed. He lighted his pipe 
and tried to think. Horribly afraid — yes, he felt 
horribly afraid, but determined. Presently, as a 
little power of concentration came back, he noticed 
that all the prints were iir straight lines, each mark 
about two feet from the next. 

"It was observing us while we slept," said Jan- 
dron. 

"What nonsense are you talking, eh?" demanded 
Marr. His dark, heavy face sagged. "Fire, now, 
and grub!" 

He got up and shuffled unsteadily away from the 
river. Then he stopped with a jerk, staring. 

"Look! Look a' that axe!" he gulped, pointing. 

Jandron picked up the axe, by the handle, taking 
good care not to touch the steel. The blade was 
white-furred with frost. And deep into it, punching 
out part of the edge, one of the prints was stamped. 

"This metal," said he, "is clean gone. It's been 
absorbed. The Thing doesn't recognize any differ- 
ence in materials. Water and steel and rock are 
all the same to It. 

"You're crazy!" snarled the journalist. "How 
could a Thing travel on one leg, hopping along, mak- 
ing marks like that?" 

"It could roll, if it was disk-shaped. And — " 

A cry from the Professor turned them. Thor- 
burn was stumbling toward them, hands out and 
tremulous. 

"My wife — !" he choked. 

Vivian was kneeling beside her sister, frightened, 
dazed. 

"Something's happened!" stammered the Profes- 
sor. "Here — come here — !" 

Mrs. Thorburn was beyond any power of theirs, 
to help. She was still breathing; but her respira- 
tions were stertorous, and a complete paralysis had 
stricken her. Her eyes, half-open and expression- 
less, showed pupils startlingly dilated. No resources 
of the party's drug-kit produced the slightest effect 
on the woman. 

The next half-hour was a confused panic, break- 
ing camp, getting Mrs. Thorburn into a canoe, and 
leaving that accursed place, with a furious energy 
of terror that could no longer reason. Up-stream, 
ever up against the swirl of the current the party 
fought, driven by horror. With no thought of food 
or' drink, paying no heed to landmarks, lashed for- 
ward only by the mad desire to be gone, the. three 



70 



AMAZING STORIES 



men and the girl flung every ounce of their energy 
into the paddles. Their panting breath mingled 
with the sound of swirling eddies. A mist-blurred 
sun brooded over the northern wilds. Unheeded, 
hosts of black-flies sang high-pitched keenings all 
about the fugitives. On either hand the forest 
waited, watched. 

Only after two hours of sweating toil had brought 
exhaustion did they stop, in the shelter of a cove 
where black waters circled, foam-flecked. There 
they found the Professor's wife — she was dead. 

Nothing remained to do but bury her. At first 
Thorburn would not hear of it. Like a madman 
he insisted that through all hazards he would fetch 
the body out. Eut no — impossible. So, after a ter- 
rible time, he yielded. 

In spite of her grief, Vivian was admirable. She 
understood what must be done. It was her voice 
that said the prayers; her hand that — lacking 
flowers — laid the fir boughs on the cairn. The Pro- 
fessor was dazed past doing anything, saying any- 
thing. 

Toward mid-afternoon, the party landed again, 
many miles up-river. Necessity forced them to eat. 
Firs would not burn. Every time they lighted it, 
it smouldered and went out with a heavy, greasy 
smoke. The fugitives ate cold food and drank 
water, then shoved off in two canoes and once more 
fled. 

In the third canoe, hauled to the edge of the 
forest, lay all the rock-specimens, data and curios, 
scientific instruments. The party kept only Marr's 
diary, a compass, supplies, fire-arms and medicine- 
kit. 

"We can find the things we've left— sometime," 
said Jandron, noting the place well. "Sometime — 
after /( has gone," 

"And bring the body out," added Thorburn. 
Tears, for the first time, wet his eyes. Vivian said 
nothing. Marr tried to light his pipe. He seemed 
to forget that nothing, not even tobacco, would 
burn now. 

Vivian and Jandron occupied one canoe. The 
other carried the Professor and Marr. Thus the 
power of the two canoes was about the same. They 
kept well together, up-stream. 

The fugitives paddled and portaged with a dumb, 
desperate energy. Toward evening they struck into 
what they believed to be the Mamattawan. A mile 
up this, as the blurred sun faded beyond a wilder- 
ness of ominous silence, they camped. Here they 
made determined efforts to kindle fire. Not even 
alcohol from the drug-kit would start it. Cold, they 
mumbled a little food ; cold, they huddled into their 
sleeping-bags, there to lie with darkness leaden on 
their fear. After a long time, up over a world void 
of all sound save the river-flow, slid an amber moon 
notched by the ragged tops of the conifers. Even 
the wail of a timber-wolf would have come as wel- 
come relief; but no wolf howled. 

Silence and night enfolded them. And every- 
where they felt that It was watching. 

Foolishly enough, as a man will do foolish things 
in a crisis, Jandron laid his revolver outside his 
sleeping-bag, in easy reach. His thought — blurred 
by a strange, drawing headache — was : 

"If /( touches Vivian, I'll shoot!" 

He realized the complete absurdity of trying to 
shoot a visitant from interstellar space; from the 



Fourth Dimension, maybe. Eut Jandron'3 ideas 
seemed tangled. Nothing would come right. He 
lay there, absorbed in a kind of waking night- 
mare. Now and then, rising on an elbow, he 
hearkened ; all in vain. Nothing so much as stirred. 

His thought drifted to better days, when all had 
been health, sanity, optimism; when nothing except 
jealousy of Marr, as concerned Vivian, had troubled 
him. Days when the sizzle of the frying-pan over 
friendly coals had made friendly wilderness music; 
when the wind and the northern star, the whirr 
of the reel, the whispering vortex of the paddle in 
clear water had all been things of joy. Yes, and 
when a certain happy moment had, through some 
word or look of the girl, seemed to promise his 
heart's desire. But now — 

"Damn it, I'll save her, anyhow!" he swore with 
savage intensity, knowing all the while that what 
was to be, would be, unmitigably. Do ants, by any 
waving of antenna?, stay the down-crushing foot 
of man ? 

Next morning, and the next, no sign of the Thing 
appeared. Hope revived that possibly It might have 
flitted away elsewhere; back, perhaps, to outer 
space. Many were the miles the urging paddles 
spurned behind. The fugitives calculated that a. 
week more would bring them to the railroad. Fire 
burned again. Hot food and drink helped, wonder- 
fully. Eut where were the fish? 

"Most extraordinary," all at once said the Pro- 
fessor, at noonday camp. He had become quite 
rational again. "Do you realize, Jandron, we've seen 
no traces of life in some time?" 

The geologist nodded. Only too clearly he had 
noted just that, but he had been keeping still 
about it. 

"That's so, too!" chimed in Marr, enjoying the 
smoke that some incomprehensible turn of events 
was letting him have. "Not a muskrat or beaver. 
Not even a squirrel or bird." 

"Not so much as a gnat or black-fly!" the Pro- 
fessor added. Jandron suddenly realized that he 
would have welcomed even those. 

That afternoon, Marr fell into a suddenly vile 
temper. He mumbled curses against the guides, 
the current, the portages, everything. The Pro- 
fessor seemed more cheerful. Vivian complained 
of an oppressive headache. Jandron gave her the 
last of the aspirin tablets; and as he gave them, 
took her band in his. 

"Ill see you through, anyhow," said he, "I don't 
count, now. Nobody counts, only you!" 

She gave him a long, silent look. He saw the 
sudden glint of tears in her eyes ; "felt the pressure 
of her hand, and knew they two had never been 
so near each other as in that moment under the 
shadow of the Unknown. 

Next day— or it may have been two days later, 
for none of them could be quite sure t-bout the 
passage of time — they came to a deserted lumber- 
camp. Even more than two days might have 
passed; because now their bacon was all gone, and 
only coffee, tobacco, beef-cube3 and pilot-bread re- 
mained. The lack of fish and game had eut alarm- 
ingly into the duffle-bag. That day — whatever day 
it may have been — all four of them suffered terribly 
from headache of an odd, ring-shaped kind, as if 
something circular were being pressed down about 
their heads. The Professor said it was the aun that 



THE THING FROM— "OUTSIDE" 



71 



made his head ache. Vivian laid it to the wind 
and the gleam of the swift water, while Marr 
claimed it was the heat. Jandron wondered at all 
this, inasmuch as he plainly saw that the river had 
almost stopped flowing, and the day had become still 
and overcast. 

They dragged their canoes upon a rotting stage 
of fir-poles and explored the lumber-camp ; a mourn- 
ful place set back in an old "slash," now partly over- 
grown with scrub poplar, maple and birch. The 
log buildings, covered with tar-paper partly torn 
from the pole roofs, were of the usual North Coun- 
try type. Obviously the place had not been used 
for years. Even the landing-stage where once logs 
had been rolled into the stream had sagged to decay. 

"I don't quite get the idea of this," Marr ex- 
claimed. "Where did the logs go to? Downstream, 
of course. But that would take 'em to Hudson Bay, 
and there's no market for spruce timber or pulp- 
wood at Hudson Bay." He pointed down the cur- 
rent. 

"You're entirely mistaken," put in the Professor. 
"Any fool could see this river runs the other way. 
A log thrown in here would go down toward the St. 
Lawrence I" 

"But then," asked the girl, "why can't we drift 
back to civilization V The Professor retorted : 

"Just what we have been doing, all along! Ex- 
traordinary, that I have to explain the obvious!]' 
He walked away in a huff, 

"I don't know but he's right, at that," half ad- 
mitted the journalist. "I've been thinking almost 
the same thing, myself, the past day or two — that 
is, ever since the sun shifted." 

"What do you mean, shifted?" from Jandron, 

"You haven't noticed it?" 

"But there's been no sun at all, for at least two 
days!" 

"Hanged if I'll waste time arguing with a luna- 
tic!" Marr growled. He vouchsafed no explanation 
of what he meant by the sun's having "shifted," 
but wandered off, grumbling. 

"What are we going to do?" the girl appealed to 
Jandron. The sight of her solemn, frightened eyes, 
of her palm-outward hands and (at last) her very 
feminine fear, constricted Jandron's heart. 

"We're going through, you and I," he answered 
simply. "We've got to save them from themselves, 
you and I have." 

Their hands met again, and for a moment held. 
Despite the dead calm, a fir-tip at the edge of the 
clearing suddenly flicked aside, shrivelled as if 
frozen. But neither of them saw it. 

The fugitives, badly spent, established themselves 
in the "bar-room" or sleeping-shack of the camp. 
They wanted to feel a roof over them again, if only 
a broken one. The traces of men comforted them: 
a couple of broken peavies, a pair of snowshoes with 
the thongs all gnawed off, a cracked bit of mirror, 
a yellowed almanac dated 1899. 

Jandron called the Professor's attention to this 
almanac, but the Professor thrust it aside. 

"What do / want of a Canadian census-report?" 
he demanded, and fell to counting the bunks, over 
and over again. His big bulge of his forehead, that 
housed the massive brain of him, was oozing sweat. 
Marr cursed what he claimed was sunshine through 
the holes in the roof, though Jandron could see 
none; claimed the sunshine made his head ache. 



"But it's not a bad place," he added . "We can 
make a blaze in that fireplace and be comfy. I don't 
like that window, though." 

"What window?" asked Jandron. "Where?" 

Marr laughed, and ignored him. Jandron turned 
to Vivian, who had sunk down on the "deacon-seat" 
and was staring at the stove. 

'7s there a window here?" he demanded. 

"Don't ask me," she whispered. "I — I don't 
know." 

With a very thriving fear in his heart, Jandron 
peered at her a moment. He fell to muttering: 

"I'm Wallace Jandron. Wallace Jandron, 37 
Ware Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. I'm quite 
sane. And I'm going to stay so. I'm going to save 
her ! I know perfectly well what I'm doing. And 
I'm sane. Quite, quite sane!" 

After a time of confused and purposeless wrang- 
ling, they got a fire going and made coffee. This, 
and cube bouillon with hardtack, helped consider- 
ably. The camp helped, too. A house, even a poor 
and broken one, is a wonderful barrier against a 
Thing from — Outside. 

Presently darkness folded down. The men smoked, 
thankful that tobacco still held out. Vivian lay in 
a bunk that Jandron had piled with spruce boughs 
for her, and seemed to sleep. The Professor fretted 
like a child, over the blisters his paddle had made 
upon his hands. Marr laughed, now and then; 
though what he might be laughing at was not ap- 
parent. Suddenly he broke out: 

"After all, what should It want of us?" 

"Our brains, of course," the Professor answered, 
sharply. 

"That lets Jandron out," the journalist mocked. 

"But," added the Professor, "I can't imagine a, 
Thing callously destroying human beings. And 
yet — " 

He stopped short, with surging memories of his 
dead wife. 

"What was it," Jandron asked, "that destroyed 
all those people in Valladolid, Spain, that time so 
many of 'em died in a Jew minutes after having 
been touched by an invisible Something that left 
a slight red mark on each? The newspapers were 
full of it." 

"Piffle!" yawned Marr. 

"I tell you," insisted Jandron, "there are forms 
of life as superior to us as we are to ants. We can't 
see 'em. No ant ever saw a man. And did any ant 
ever form the least conception of a man? These 
Things have left thousands of traces, all over the 
world. If I had my reference-books — " 

"Tell that to the marines!" 

"Charles Fort, the greatest authority in the world 
on unexplained phenomena," persisted Jandron, 
"gives innumerable cases of happenings that science 
can't explain, in his 'Book of the Damned.' He 
claims this earth was once a No-Man's land where 
all kinds of Things explored and colonized and 
fought for possession. And he says that now every- 
body's warned off, except the Owners. I happen 
to remember a few sentences of his: 'In the past, 
inhabitants of a host of worlds have dropped here, 
hopped here, wafted here, sailed, flown, motored, 
walked here ; have come singly, have come in enor- 
mous numbers; have visited for hunting, trading, 
mining. They have been unable to stay here, have 
made colonies here, have been lost here." 



72 



AMAZING STORIES 



"Poor fish, to believe that!" mocked the jour- 
nalist, while the Professor blinked and rubbed his 
bulging forehead. 

"I do believe it!" insisted Jandron. "The world 
is covered with relics of dead civilizations, that have 
mysteriously vanished, leaving nothing but their 
temples and monuments." 

"Rubbish !" 

"How about Easter Island? How about all the 
gigantic works there and in a thousand other places 
! — Peru, Yucatan and so on — which certainly no 
primitive race ever built?" 

"That's thousands of years ago," said Marr, "and 
I'm sleepy. For heaven's sake, can it!" 

"Oh, all right. But how explain things, then!" 

"What the devil could one of those Things want 
of our brains?" suddenly put in the Professor. 
"After all, what?" 

"Well, what do we want of lower forms of life? 
Sometimes food. Again, some product or other. 
Or just information. Maybe It is just experiment- 
ing with us, the way we poke an ant-hill. There's 
always this to remember, that the human brain- 
tissue is the most highly-organized form of matter 
in this world." 

"Yes," admitted the Professor, "but what — ?" 

"It might want brain-tissue for food, for experi- 
mental purposes, for lubricant — how do I know?" 

Jandron fancied he was still explaining things; 
but all at once he found himself waking up in one 
of the bunks. He felt terribly cold, stiff, sore. 
A sift of snow lay here and there on the camp floor, 
where it had fallen through holes in the roof. 

"Vivian I" he croaked hoarsely. "Thorburn ! 
Marr!" 

Nobody answered. There was nobody to answer. 
Jandron crawled with immense pain out of his bunk, 
and blinked round with bleary eyes. All of a sud- 
den he saw the Professor, and gulped. 

The Professor was lying stiff and straight in 
another bunk, on his back. His waxen face made 
a mask of horror. The open, staring eyes, with 
pupils immensely dilated, sent Jandron shuddering 
back. A livid ring marked the forehead, that now 
sagged inward as if empty. 

"Vivian!" croaked Jandron, staggering away 
from the body. He fumbled to the bunk where the 
girl had lain. The bunk was quite deserted. 

On the stove, in which lay half-charred wood—; 
wood smothered out as if by some noxious gas — 
still stood the coffee-pot. The liquid in it was frozen 
solid. Of Vivian and the journalist, no trace re- 
mained. 

Along one of the sagging beams that supported 
the roof, Jandron's horror -bias ted gaze perceived 
a straight line of frosted prints, ring-shaped, bitten 
deep. 

"Vivian! Vivian!" 

No answer. 

Shaking, sick, gray, half-blind with a horror not 
of this world, Jandron peered slowly around. The 
duffle-bag and supplies were gone. Nothing was left 
but that coffee-pot and the revolver at Jandron's 
hip. 

Jandron turned, then. A-stare, his skull feeling 
empty as a burst drum, he crept lamely to the door 
and out — out into the snow. 

Snow. It came slanting down. From a gray sky 
it steadily filtered. The trees showed no leaf. 



Birches, poplars, rock-maples all stood naked. Only 
the conifers drooped sickly-green. In a little shal- 
low across the river snow lay white on thin ice. 

Ice? Snow? Rapt with terror, Jandron stared. 
Why, then, he must have been unconscious three or 
four weeks? But how — ? 

Suddenly, all along the upper branches of trees 
that edged the clearing, puffs of snow flicked down. 
The geologist shuffled after two ha If- obi iterated sets 
of footprints that wavered toward the landing. 

His body was leaden. He wheezed, a3 he reached 
the river. The light, dim as it was, hurt his eye3. 
He blinked in a confusion that could just perceive 
one canoe was gone. He pressed a hand to his head, 
where an iron band seemed screwed up tight, 
tighter. 

"Vivian ! Marr ! Halloooo !" 

Not even an echo. Silence clamped the world; 
silenee, and a cold that gnawed. Everything had 
gone a sinister gray. 

After a certain time — though time now possessed 
neither reality nor duration — Jandron dragged him- 
self back to the camp and stumbled in. Heedless 
of the staring corpse he crumpled down by the stove 
and tried to think, but his brain had been emptied 
of power. Everything blent to a gray blur. Snow 
kept slithering in through the roof. 

"Well, why don't you come and get me. Thing?" 
suddenly snarled Jandron. "Here I am. Damn 
you, come and get me!" 

Voices. Suddenly he heard voices. Yes, some- 
body was outside, there. Singularly aggrieved, he 
got up and limped to the door. He squinted out 
into* the gray ; saw two figures down by the landing. 
With numb indifference he recognized the girl and 
Marr. 

"Why should they bother me again?" he nebu- 
lously wondered. Can't they go away and leava 
me alone?" He felt peevish irritation. 

Then, a modicum of reason returning, he sensed 
that they were arguing. Vivian, beside a canoe 
freshly dragged from thin ice, was pointing ; Marr 
was gesticulating. All at once Marr snarled, turned 
from her, plodded with bent back toward the camp. 

"But listen!" she called, her rough-knit sweater 
all powdered with snow. "That's the way!" She 
gestured downstream. 

"I'm not going either way!" Marr retorted. "I'm 
going to stay right here !" He came on, bareheaded. 
Snow grayed his stubble of beard; but on his head 
it melted as it fell, as if some fever there had raised 
the brain-stuff to improbable temperatures. "I'm 
going to stay right here, all summer." His heavy 
lids sagged. Puffy and evil, his lips showed a glint 
of teeth. "Let me alone!" 

Vivian lagged after him, kicking up the ash-like 
■ snow. With indifference, Jandron watched them. 
Trivial human creatures! 

Suddenly Marr saw , him in the doorway and 
stopped short. He drew his gun; he aimed at 
Jandron. 

"You get DUt!" he mouthed. "Why in ^ — can't 
you stay dead?" 

"Put that gun down, you idiot!" Jandron managed 
to retort. The girl stopped and seemed trying to 
understand. "We can get away yet, if we all stick 
together." 

"Are you going to get out and leave me alone?" 



THE THING FROM— "OUTSIDE" 



73 



demanded the journalist, holding his gun steadily 
enough. 

Jandron, wholly indifferent, watched the muzzle. 
Vague curiosity possessed him. Just what, he won- 
dered, did it feel like to be shot? 

Mart pulled trigger. 

Snap! 

The cartridge missed fire. Not even powder would 
bum. 

Marr laughed, horribly, and shambled forward. 

"Serves him right!" he mouthed, "He'd better 
not come back again 1" 

Jandron understood that Marr had seen him fall. 
But still he felt himself standing there, alive. He 
shuffled away from the door. No matter whether 
he was alive or dead, there was always Vivian to be 
saved. 

The journalist came to the door, paused, looked 
down, grunted and passed into the camp. He shut 
the door. Jandron heard the rotten wooden bar 
of the latch drop. From within echoed a laugh, 
monstrous in its brutality. 

Then quivering, the geologist felt a touch on his 

"Why did you desert us like that?" he heard 
.Vivian's reproach. "Why?" 

He turned, hardly able to see her at all. 

"Listen," he said, thickly. "I'll admit anything. 
It's all right. But ju3t forget it, for now. We've 
got to get out o' here. The Professor is dead, in 
there, and Marr's gone mad and barricaded himself 
in there. So there's no use staying. There's a 
chance for us yet. Come along!" 

He took her by the arm and tried to draw her 
toward the river, but she held back. The hate in 
her face sickened him. He shook in the grip of a 
mighty chill. 

"Go, with — you?" she demanded. 

"Yes, by God!" he retorted, in a swift blaze of 
anger, "or I'll kill you where you stand. It shan't 
get you, anyhow!" 

Swiftly piercing, a greater cold smote to his inner 
marrows. A long row of the cup-shaped prints had 
just appeared in the snow beside the camp. And 
from these marks wafted a faint, bluish vapor of 
unthinkable cold. 

"What are you staring at?" the girl demanded. 

"Those prints! In the snow, there — see?" He 
pointed a shaking finger. 

"How can there be snow at this season?" 

He could have wept for the pity of her, the love 
of her. On her red tam, her tangle of rebel hair, 
her sweater, the snow came steadily drifting; yet 
there she stood before him and prated of summer. 
Jandron heaved himself out of a very slough of 
down-dragging lassitudes. He whipped himself into 
action. 

"Summer, winter — no matter!" he flung at her. 
"You're coming along with me!" He seized her arm 
with the brutality of desperation that must hurt, 
to save. And murder, too, lay in his soul. He knew 
that he would strangle her with his naked hands, 
if need were, before he would ever leave her there, 
for It to work Its horrible will upon. 

"You come with me," he mouthed, "or by the 
Almighty — !" 

Marr's scream in the camp, whirled him toward 
the door. That scream rose higher, higher, even 
more and more piercing, just like the aereams of 



the runaway Indian guides in what now appeared 
the infinitely long ago. It seemed to last hours ; and 
always it rose, rose, as if being wrung out of a 
human body by some kind of agony not conceivable 
in this world. Higher, higher — 

Then it stopped. 

Jandron hurled himself against the plank door. 
The bar smashed; the door shivered inward. 

With a cvy, Jandron recoiled. He covered his eyes 
with a hand that quivered, claw-like. 

"Go away, Vivian ! Don't come here — don't 
Idok — " 

He stumbled away, babbling. 

Out of the door crept something like a man. 
A queer, broken, bent over thing; a thing crippled, 
shrunken and flabby, that whined. 

This thing — yes, it was still Marr — crouched down 
at one side, quivering, whimpering. It moved its 
hands as a crushed ant moves its antenna?, jerkily, 
without significance. 

All at once Jandron no longer felt afraid. He 
walked quite steadily to Marr, who was breathing 
in little gasps. From the camp issued an odor 
unlike anything terrestrial. A thin, grayish grease 
covered the sill. 

Jandron caught hold of the crumpling journalist's 
arm. Marr's eyes leered, filmed, unseeing. He gave 
the impression of a creature whose back has been 
broken, whose whole essence and energy have been 
wrenched asunder, yet in whieh life somehow clings, 
palpitant. A creature vivisected. 

Away through the snow Jandron dragged him. 
Marr made no resistance; just let himself be led, 
whining a little, palsied, rickety, shattered. The 
girl, her face whitely cold as the snow that fell on 
it, came after. 

Thus they reached the landing at the river. 

"Come, now, let's get away !" Jandron made shift 
to articulate. Marr said nothing. But when Jan- 
dron tried to bundle him into a canoe, something in 
the journalist revived with swift, mad hatefulness. 
That something lashed him into a spasm of wiry, 
incredibly venomous resistance. Slavers of blood 
and foam streaked Marr's lips. He made horrid 
noises, like an animal. He howled dismally, and 
bit, clawed, writhed and grovelled ! he tried to sink 
his teeth into Jandron's leg. He fought appallingly, 
^s men must have fought in the inconceivably re- 
mote days even before the Stone Age. And Vivian 
helped him. Her fury was a tiger-cat's. 

Between the pair of them, they almost did him 
in. They almost dragged Jandron down — and them- 
selves, too — into the black river that ran swiftly 
sucking under the ice. Not till Jandron had quite 
flung off all vague notions and restraints of gal- 
lantry; not until he struck from the shoulder — to 
kill, if need were — did he best them. 

He beat the pair of them unconscious, trussed 
them hand and foot with the painters of the canoes, 
rolled them into the larger canoe, and shoved off. 

After that, the blankness of a measureless ob- 
livion descended. 

Only from what he was told, weeks after, in the 
Royal Victoria Hospital at Montreal, did Jandron 
ever learn how and when a field-squad of Dominion 
Foresters had found them drifting in Lake Mooaa- 
wamkeag. And that knowledge filtered slowly into 
his brain during a period inchoate as Iceland fogs. 
(Contimied on page 91) 



<% Nan Who Saved dearth 

C/ ~ ~ (BfCAustinUall - - 




Irom "Huytk's Theory of" kloitlcs. Tbe" four S "al steel tonduits nirnlng from tlie globus down thr side of the numnlnln. 



THE MAN WHO SAVED THE EARTH 



75 



THE BEGINNING. 

^IVEN the beginning. From the start the 
whole thing lias the precision of ma- 
chine work. Fate and its working — 
and the wonderful Providence which 
watches over Man and his future. The 
whole thing unerring: the incident, the work, the 
calamity, and the martyr. In the retrospect of dis- 
aster we may all of us grow strong in wisdom. Let 
us go into history. 

A hot July day. A sun of scant pity, and a 
staggering street; panting thousands dragging 
along, hatless; fans and parasols; the sultry ven- 
geance of a real day of summer. A day of bursting 
tires; hot pavements, and wrecked endeavor, heart- 
aches for the seashore, for leafy bowers beside rip- 
pling water, a day of broken hopes and listless am- 
bition. 

Perhaps Fate chose the day because of its heat 
and because of its natural benefit on fecundity. We 
have no way of knowing. But we do know this : the 
date, the time, the meeting; the boy with the burn- 
ing glass and the old doctor. So commonplace, so 
trivial and hidden in obscurity! Who would have 
guessed it? Yet it is — after the creation — one of 
the most important dates in the world's history. 

This is saying a whole lot. Let us go into it and 
see what it amounts to. Let us trace the thing out 
in history, weigh it up and balance it with sequence. 

Of Charley Huyck we know nothing up to this 
day. It is a thing which, for some reason, he has 
always kept hidden. Recent investigation as to his 
previous life and antecedents have availed us noth- 
ing. Perhaps he could have told us ; but as he has 
gone down as the world's great martyr, there is no 
hope of gaining from his lips what we would so 
like to know. 

After all, it does not 
matter. We have the day 
— the incident, and its 
purport, and its climax of 
sequence to the day of the 
great disaster. Also we 
have the blasted moun- 
tains and the lake of blue 
water which will ever live 
with his memory. His 
greatness is not of war- 
fare, nor personal ambi- 
tion; but of all mankind. 
The wreaths that we be- 
stow upon him have no 
doubtful color. The man 
who saved the earth! 

From such a beginning, 
Charley Huyck, lean and frail of body, with, even 
then, the wistfulness of the idealist, and the eyes 
of a poet. Charley Huyck, the boy, crossing the 
hot pavement with his pack of papers; the much 
treasured piece of glass in his pocket, and the 
sun which only he should master burning down 
upon him. A moment out of the ages; the turning 
of a straw destined to out-balance all the previous 
accumulation of man's history. 

The sun was hot and burning, and the child — he 
could not have been more than ten— cast a glance 



YJff E read of the days ■when the powers of radium 
yfr lucre yet unknown. It is told as that bums were 
produced by incautiously carrying a tube of 
radium salts in the pocket. And here in this story tee 
are told of a different power, opalescence, due to an- 
other element. It can destroy mpunliiins. excavate cavi- 
ties of imi».'(isni-'i':lr depths and kill hitinnu beings and 
animals in multitude. The story opens with a poor little 
boy experimeniinif :.i';7i a burning glass. Then he be- 
comes the hero of the story— he studies and e-.'entually 
finds himself able to destroy the earth. He exceeds 
Archimedes in, his power. And he suddenly finds that 
he has unlocked a power that threatens this very de- 
struction. And the story depicts his horror at the 
Frankenstein which he had unloosed, and tells of his 
wild efforts to save humanity, and of the loss of the 
cosmic discoveries of the little newsboy grown up to 
be a great scientist. 



over his shoulder. It was in the way of calcula- 
tion. In the heyday of childhood he was not dragged 
down by Lhe heat and weather: he had the enthusi- 
asm of his half-score of years and the joy of the 
plaything. We will not presume to call it the spirit 
of the scientist, though it was, perhaps, the spark 
of latent investigation that was destined to lead 
so far. 

A moment picked out of destiny! A boy and a 
plaything. Uncounted millions of boys have played 
with glass and the sun rays. Who cannot remember 
the little, round-burning dot in the palm of the 
hand and the subsequent exclamation? Charley 
Huyck had found a new toy, it was a simple thing 
and as old as glass. Fate will ever be so in her 
working. 

And the doctor? Why should he have been wait- 
ing? If it was not destiny, it was at least an ac- 
cumulation of moment. In the heavy eye-glasses, 
the square, close-cut beard; and his uncompromis- 
ing fact-seeking expression. Those who knew Dr. 
Robold are strong in the affirmation that he was the 
antithesis of all emotion. He was the sternest prod- 
uct of science : unbending, hardened by experiment, 
and caustic in his condemnation of the frailness of 
human nature. 

It had been his one function to topple over the 
castles of the foolish; with his hard-seeing wisdom 
he had spotted sophistry where we thought it not. 
Even into the castles of science he had gone like a 
juggernaut. It is hard to have one's theories deri- 
ded- — yea, even for a scientist — and to be called a 
fool! Dr. Robold knew no middle language; - he was 
not relished by science. 

His memory, as we have it, is that of an eccen- 
tric. A man of slight compassion, abrupt of man- 
ner and with no tact in speaking. Genius is often 
so ; it i3 a strange fact that many of the greatest 
of men have been denied by their follows. A great 
man and laughter. He 
was not accepted. 

None of us know today 
what it cost Dr. Robold. 
He was not the man to 
tell us. Perhaps Charley 
Huyck might; but his lins 
are sealed forever. We 
only know that he retired 
to the mountain, and of 
the subsequent flood of 
benefits that rained upon 
mankind. And we still 
denied him. The great 
cynic on the mountain. 
Of the secrets of the place 
we know little. He was 
not the man to accept the 
investigator; he despised the curious. He had been 
laughed at — let be — he would work alone on the 
great moment of the future. 

In the light of the past we may well bend knee 
to the doctor and his protege, Charley Huyck. Two 
men and destiny! What would we be without them? 
One shudders to think. 

A little thing, and yet one of the greatest mo- 
ments in the world's history. It must have been 
Fate, Why was it that this stern man, who hated 
all emotion, should so have unbended at this mo- 



76 



AMAZING STORIES 



ment? That we cannot answer. But we can conjec- 
ture. Mayhap it is this: We were all wrong; we 
accepted the man's exterior and profession as the 
fact of his marrow. 

No man can lose all emotion. The doctor, was, 
after all, even as ourselves — he was human. What- 
ever may be said, we have the certainty of that mo- 
ment — and of Charley Huyck. 

The sun's rays were hot; they were burning; the 
pavements were intolerable; the baked air in the 
canyoned street was dancing like that of an oven ; a 
day of dog-days. The boy crossing the street; hia 
arm3 full of papers, and the glass bulging in his 
little hip-pocket. 

At the curb he stopped. With such a sun it was 
impossible to long forget his plaything. He drew 
it carefully out of his pocket, lay down a paper and 
began distancing his glass for the focus. He did 
not notice the man beside him. Why should he? 
The round dot, the brownish smoke, the red spark 
and the flash of flame! He stamped upon it. A 
moment out of boyhood; an experimental miracle 
as old as the age of glass, and just as delightful. 
The boy had spoiled the name of a great Governor 
of a great State; but the paper was still salable. 
He had had his moment. Mark that moment. 

A hand touched his shoulder. The lad leaped up. 

"Yessir. Star or Bulletin?" 

"I'll take one of each," said the man. "There 
now. I was just watching you. Do you know what 
you were doing?" 

"Yesair. Burning paper. Startin' fire. That's 
the way the Indians did it." 

The man smiled at the perversion of fact. There 
is not such a distance between sticks and glass in 
the age of childhood. 

"I know," he said — "the Indiana. But do you 
know how it was done; the why — why the paper 
began to blaze?" 

"Yessir." 

"All right, explain." 

The boy looked up at him. He waa a city boy 
and used to the streeta. Here was some old high- 
brow challenging his wisdom. Of course he knew. 

"It's the sun." 

"There," laughed the man. "Of course. You 
said you knew, but you don't. Why doesn't the sun, 
without the glass, burn the paper? Tell me that." 

The boy was still looking up at him; he saw that 
the man was not like the others on the street. It 
may be that the strange intimacy kindled into 
being at that moment. Certainly it was a strange 
unbending for the doctor. 

"It would if it was hot enough or you could get 
enough of it together." 

"Ah! Then that is what the glass is for, is it?" 

"Yessir." 

"Concentration?" 

"Con — I don't know, sir. But it's the sun. She's 
sure some hot. I know a lot about the sun, sir. I've 
studied it with the glass. The glass picks up all the 
rays and puts them in one hole and that's what 
burns the paper. 

"It's lots of fun. I'd like to have a bigger one; 
but it's all I've got. Why, do you know, if' I had a 
glass big enough and a place to stand, I'd burn up 
the earth?" 



The old man laughed. "Why, Archimides! I 
thought you were dead." 

"My name ain't Archimedes. It's Charley 
Huyck." 

Again the old man laughed. 

"Oh, is it? Well, that's a good name, too. And 
if you keep on you'll make it famous as the name of 
the other." Wherein he was foretelling history. 
"Where do you live?" 

The boy was still looking. Ordinarily he would 
not have told, but he motioned back with his thumb. 

"I don't live; I room over on Brennan Street." 

"Oh, I see. You room. Where's your mother?" 

"Search me; I never saw her." 

"I see; and your father?" 

"How do I know. He went floating when I was 
four years old." 

"Floating?" 

"Yessir— to sea." 

"So your mother's gone and your father's float- 
ing. Archimedes is adrift. You go to school?" 

'Tessir." 

"What reader?" 

"No reader. Sixth grade. 

"I see. What school?" 

"School Twenty-six. Say, it's hot. I can't stand 
here all day. I've got to sell my papers." 

The man pulled out a purse. 

"I'll take the lot," he said. Then kindly: "My 
boy, I would like to have you go with me." 

It was a strange moment. A little thing with the 
fates looking on. When destiny plays she picks 
strange moments. This was one. Charley Huyck 
went with Dr. Robold. 

CHAPTER II. 
THE POISON PALL. 

We all of us remember that fatal day when the 
news startled all of Oakland. No one can forget it. 
At first it read like a newspaper hoax, in spite of 
the oft-proclaimed veracity of the press, and we 
were inclined to laughter. 'Twixt wonder at the 
story and its impossibilities we were not a little 
enthused at the nerve of the man who put it over. 

It was in the days of dry reading. The world 
had grown populous and of well-fed content. Our 
aoap-box artists had come to the point at last where 
they preached, not disaster, but a full-bellied thanks 
for the millennium that was here. A period of 
Utopian quietness — no villain around the corner; 
no man to covet the ox of his neighbor. 

Quiet reading, you'll admit. Those were the days 
of the millennium. Nothing ever happened. Here's 
hoping they never come again. 1 And then: 

Honestly, we were not to blame for bestowing 
blessing out of our hearts upon that newspaperman. 
Even if it were a hoax, it was at least something. 

At high noon. The clock in the city hall had just 
struck the hour that held the post 'twixt a.m. and 
p.m., a hot day with a sky that was clear and azure ; 
a quiet day of serene peace and contentment. A 
strange and a portent moment. Looking back and 
over the miracle we may conjecture that it was the 
clearness of the atmosphere and the brightness of 
the sun that helped to the impact of the disaster. 
Knowing what we know now we can appreciate the 
impulse of natural phenomena. It was not a mir- 
acle. 



THE MAN WHO SAVED THE EARTH 



77 



The spot: Fourteenth and Broadway, Oakland, 
California. 

Fortunately the thousands of employees in the 
stores about had not yet come out for their lunch- 
eons. The lapse that it takes to put a hat on, or to 
pat a ribbon, saved a thousand lives. One shudders 
to think of what would have happened had the spot 
been crowded. Even so, it was too impossible and 
too terrible to be true. Such things could not hap- 
pen. 

At high noon: Two street-cars crossing Four- 
teenth on Broadway — two cars with the-same joggle 
and bump and the same aspect of any of a hundred 
thousand at a traffic corner. The -wonder is — there 
were so few people. A Telegraph car outgoing, 
and a Broadway car coming in. The traffic police- 
man at his post had just given his signal. Two 
automobiles were passing and a single pedestrian, 
so it is said, was working his way diagonally across 
the corner. Of this we are not certain. 

It was a moment that impinged on miracle. Even 
as we recount it, knowing, a3 we do, the explana- 
tion, we sense the impossibility of the event. A 
phenomenon that holds out and, in spite of our find- 
ings, lingers into the miraculous. To be and not to 
be. One moment life and action, an ordinary scene 
of existent monotony; and the next moment noth- 
ing. The spot, the intersection of the street, the 
passing street-cars, the two automobiles, pedestrian, 
the policeman — non-existent! When events are in- 
stantaneous reports are apt to be misleading. This 
is what we find. 

Some of those who beheld it, report a flash of 
bluish white light; others that it was of a greenish 
or even a violet hue; and others, no doubt of strong- 
er vision, that it was not only of a predominant 
color but that it was shot and sparkled with a 
myriad specks of flame and burning. 

It gave no warning and it made no sound; not 
even a whir. Like a hot breath out of the void. 
Whatever the forces that had focused, they were 
destruction. There was no Fourteenth and Broad- 
way. The two automobiles, the two street-cars, the 
pedestrian, the policeman had been whiffed away 
as if they had never existed. In place of the inter- 
section of the thoroughfares was a yawning gulf 
that looked down into the center of the earth to a 
depth of nausea. 

It was instantaneous; it was without sound; no 
warning. A tremendous force of unlimited poten- 
tiality had been loosed to kinetic violence. It was 
the suddenness and the silence that belied credence. 
We were accustomed to associate all disaster with 
confusion; calamity has an affinity with pandemo- 
nium, all things of terror climax into sound. In 
this case there was no sound. Hence the wonder. 

A hole or bore forty feet in diameter. Without 
a particle of warning and without a bit of confu- 
sion. The spectators one and all aver that at first 
they took it for nothing more than the effect of 
startled eyesight. Almost subtle. It was not until 
after a full minute's reflection that they became 
aware that a miracle had been wrought before their, 
faces. • Then the crowd rushed up and with awe 
and now awakened terror gazed down into that ter- 
rible pit. 

We say ''terrible" because in thi3 case it is an 
exact adjective. The strangest hole that man ever 



looked into. It was so deep that at first it appeared 
to have no bottom; not even the strongest eyesight 
could penetrate the smoldering blackness that 
shrouded the depths descending. It took a stout 
heart and courage to stand and hold one's head on 
the brink for even a minute. 

It was straight and precipitous ; a perfect circle 
in shape; with sides as smooth as the effect of ma- 
chine work, the pavement and 3tone curb had been 
cut as if by a razor. Of the two street cars, two 
automobiles and their occupants there was nothing. 
The whole thing so silent and complete. Not even 
the spectators could really believe it. 

It was a hard thing to believe. The newspapers 
themselves, when the news came clamoring, accept- 
ed it with reluctance. It was too much like a hoax. 
Not until the most trusted reporters had gone and 
had wired in their reports would they even con- 
sider it. Then the whole world sat up and took 
notice. 

A miracle! Like Oakland's Press we all of ua 
doubted that hole. We had attained almost every- 
thing that was worth the knowing; we were the 
masters of the earth and its secrets and we were 
proud of our wisdom; naturally we refused such 
reports all out of reason. It must be a hoax. 

But the wires were persistent. Came corrobora- 
tion, A reliable news-gathering organization soon 
was coming through with elaborate and detailed 
accounts of just what was happening. We had the 
news from the highest and most reputable author- 
ity. 

And still we doubted. It was the story itself 
that brought the doubting; its touch on miracle. 
It was too easy to pick on the reporter. There might 
be a hole, and all that; but this thing of no explana- 
tion! A bomb perhaps? No noise? Some new 
explosive? No such thing? Well, how did we know? 
It was better than a miracle. 

Then came the scientists. As soon as could be 
men of great minds had been hustled to the scene. 
The world had long been accustomed to accept with- 
out quibble the dictum of these great specialists 
of fact. With their train of accomplishments be- 
hind them we would hardly be consistent were we 
to doubt them. 

We know the scientist and his habits. He is the 
one man who will believe nothing until it is proved. 
It is his profession, and for that we pay him. He 
can catch the smallest bug that ever crawled out 
of an atom and give it a name so long that a Polish 
wrestler, if he had to bear it, would break under the 
burden. It is his very knack of getting in under 
that has given us our civilization. You don't baffle 
a scientist in our Utopia. It can't be done. Which 
is one of the very reasons why we began to believe 
in the miracle. 

In a few moments a crowd of many thousands had 
gathered about the spot; the throng grew so dense 
that there was peril of some of them being crowded 
into the pit at the center. It took all the spare 
policemen of the city to beat them back far enough 
to string ropes from the corners. For blocks the 
streets were packed with wondering thousands. 
Street traffic was impossible. It was necessary to 
divert the cars to a roundabout route to keep the 
arteries open to the suburbs. 

Wild rumors spread over the city. No one knew 



78 



AMAZING STORIES 



how many passengers had been upon the street cars. 
The officials of the company, from the schedule, 
could pick the numbers of the cars and their crews ; 
but who could tell of the occupants? 

Telephones rang with tearful pleadings. When 
the first rumors of the horror leaked out every wife 
and mother felt the clutch of panic at her heart- 
strings. It was a moment of historical psychology. 
Out of our hooks we had read of this strange phase 
of human nature that was wont to rise like a mad 
screeching: thing out of disaster. We had never 
had it in Utopia. 

It was rumbling at first and out of exaggeration ; 
as the tale passed farther back to the waiting 
thousands it gained with the repetition. Grim and 
terrible enough in fact, it ratioed up with reitera- 
tion. Perhaps after all it was not psychology. The 
average impulse of the human mind does not even 
-up so exactly. In the light of what we now know 
it may have been the poison that had leaked into 
the air; the new element that was permeating the 
atmosphere of the city. 

At first it was spasmodic. The nearest witnesses 
of the disaster were the first victims. A strange 
malady began to spot out among fhose of the crowd 
who had been at the spot of contact. This is to be 
noticed. A strange affliction which from the viru- 
lence and rapidity of action was quite puzzling to 
the doctors. 

Those among the physicians who would consent 
to statement gave it out that it was breaking down 
of tissue. Which of course it was; the new ele- 
ment that was radiating through the atmosphere of 
the city. They did not know it then. 

The pity of it! The subtle, odorless pall was 
silently shrouding out over the city. In a short 
time the hospitals were full and it was necessary 
to call in medical aid from San Francisco. They 
had not even time for diagnosis. The new plague 
was fatal almost at conception. Happily the scien- 
tists made the discovery. 

It waa the pall. At the end of three hours it 
was known that the death sheet was spreading out 
over Oakland. We may thank our stars that it was 
learned so early. Had the real warning come a few 
hours later the death list would have been appalling. 

A new element had been discovered; or if not a 
new element, at least something which was tipping 
over all the laws of the atmospheric envelope. A 
new combination that waa fatal. When the news 
and the warning went out, panic fell upon the hay 
shore. 

But some men stuck. In the face of such terror 
there were those who stayed and with grimness 
and aacrifi.ee hung to their posts for mankind. 
There are some who had said that the stuff of 
heroes had passed away. Let them then consider 
the case of John Robinson. 

Robinson was a telegraph operator. Until that 
day he was a poor unknown; not a whit better 
than his fellows. Now he has a name that will run 
in history. In the face of what he knew he remained 
under the blanket. The last words out of Oakland 
— hia last message: 

"Whole city of Oakland in grip of strange mad- 
ness. Keep out of Oakland," — following which 
came a haphazard personal commentary: 

"I can feel it coming on myself. It is like what 



our ancestors must have felt when they were 
getting drunk — alternating desires of fight and 
singing — a strange sensation, light, and ecstatic 
with a spasmodic twitching over the forehead. 
Terribly thirsty. Will stick it out if I can get 
enough water. Never so dry in my life." 

Followed a lapse of silence. Then the last words: 

"I guess we're done for. There is some poison 
in the atmosphere — something. ■ It has leaked, of 
course, out of this thing at Fourteenth and Broad- 
way. Dr. Manson of the American Institute says 
it is something new that is forming a fatal com- 
bination ; but he cannot understand a new element ; 
the quantity is too enormous. 

"Populace has been warned out of the city. All 
roads are packed with refugees. The Berkeley 
Hills are covered as with flies — north, east, and 
south and on the boats to Frisco. The poison, what- 
ever it is, is advancing in a ring from Fourteenth 
and Broadway. You have got to pass it to these 
old boys of science. They are staying with that 
ring. Already they have calculated the rate of its 
advance and have given warning. They don't 
know what it is, but they have figured just how 
fast it is moving. They have saved the city. 

"I am one of the few men now inside the wave. 
Out of curiosity I have stuck. I have a jug and as 
long as it lasts I shall stay. Strange feeling. 
Dry, dry, dry, as if the juice of one's life cells was 
turning into dust. Water evaporating almost in- 
stantly. It cannot pass through glass. Whatever 
the poison it has an affinity for moisture. Do not 
understand it. I have had enough — " 

That was all. After that there was no more 
news out of Oakland. It is the only word that we 
have out of the pal] itself. It was short and dis- 
connected and a bit slangy ; but for all that a basis 
from which to conjecture. 

It is a strange and glorious thing how some men 
will stick to the post of danger. This operator 
knew that it meant death; but he held with duty. 
Had he been a man of scientific training his in- 
formation might have been of incalculable value. 
However, may God bless his heroic soul! 

What we know is thirst! The word that came 
from the experts confirmed it. Some new element 
of force was stealing or sapping the humidity out 
of the atmosphere. Whether this was combining 
and entering into a poison could not be determined. 

Chemists worked frantically at the outposts of 
the advancing ring. In four hours it had covered 
the city; in six it had reached San Leandro, and 
was advancing on toward Haywards. 

It was a strange story and incredible from the 
beginning. No wonder the world doubted. Such 
a thing had never happened. We had accepted the 
the law of judging the future by the past; by deduc- 
tion; we were used to sequence and to law; to the 
laws of Nature. This thing did look like a miracle; 
which was merely because — as usually it is with 
"miracles" — we could not understand it. Happily, 
we can look back now and still place our faith in 
Nature. 

The world doubted and was afraid. Was this 
peril to spread slowly over the whole state of Cali- 
fornia and then on to the — world. Doubt always 
precedes terror. A tense world waited. Then came 
the word of reassurance — from the scientists: 



THE MAN WHO SAVED THE EARTH 



79 



"Danger past; vigor of the ring is abating. Cal- 
culation has deduced that the wave is slowly de- 
creasing in potentiality. It is too early yet to say 
that there will be recessions, as the wave is just 
reaching its zenith. What it is we cannot say; but 
it cannot be inexplicable. After a little time it 
will all be explained. Say to the world there is no 
cause for alarm." 

But the world was now aroused; as it doubted the 
truth before, it doubted now the reassurance. Did 
the scientists know? Could they have only seen 
the future ! We know now that they did not. There 
was but one man in all the world great enough 
to foresee disaster. That man was Charley Huyck. 

CHAPTER III 
THE MOUNTAIN THAT WAS 

On the same day on which all this happened, a 
young man, Pizzozi by name and of Italian paren- 
tage, left the little town of lone in Amador County, 
California, with a small truck-load of salt. He 
was one of the cattlemen whose headquarters or 
home-farms are clustered about the foot-bills of the 
Sierras. In the wet season they stay with their 
home-land in the valley; in the summer they pene- 
trate into the mountains. Pizzozi had driven in 
from the mountains the night before, after salt. 
He had been on the road since midnight. 

Two thousand salt-hungry cattle do not allow 
time for gossip. With the thrift of hi3 race, Joe 
had loaded up his truck and after a running snatch 
at breakfast was headed back into the mountains. 
When the news out of Oakland was thrilling around 
the world he was far into the Sierras. 

The summer quarters of Pizzozi were close to 
Mt. Heckla, whose looming shoulders rose square 
in the center of the pasture of the three brothers. 
It was not a noted mountain — that is, until this 
day — and had no reason for a name other than 
that it was a peak outstanding from the range; like 
a thousand others; rugged, pine clad, coated with 
deer-brush, red soil, and mountain miserie, 

It was the' deer-brush that gave it value to the 
Pizzozis — a succulent feed richer than alfalfa. In 
the early summer they would come up with bony 
cattle. When they returned in the fall they went 
out driving beef-steaks. But inland cattle must 
have more than forage. Salt is the tincture that 
makes them healthy. 

It was far past the time of the regular salting. 
Pizzozi was in a hurry. It was nine o'clock when 
he passed through the mining town of Jackson ; and 
by twelve o'clock — the minute of the disaster — he 
was well beyond the last little hamlet that linked 
up with civilization. It was four o'clock when he 
drew up at the little pine-sheltered cabin that was 
his headquarters for the summer. 

He had been on the road since midnight. He was 
tired. The long weary hours of driving, the grades, 
the unvaried stress though the deep red dust, the 
heat, the stretch of a night and day had worn both 
mind and muscle. It had been his turn to go after 
3alt; now that he was here, he could lie in for a 
bit of rest while his brothers did the salting. 

It was a peaceful spot! this cabin of the Piz- 
zozis; nestled among the virgin shade trees, great 
tall feathery sugar-pines with a mountain live-oak 



spreading over the door yard. To the east the 
rising heights of the Sierras, misty, gray-green, 
undulating into the distance to the pink-white snow 
crests of Little Alpine. Below in the canyon, the 
waters of the Mokolumne; to the west the heavy 
dark masses of Mt. Heckla, deep verdant in the cool 
of coming evening. 

Joe drew up under the shade of the live oak. The 
air was full of cool, sweet scent of the afternoon. 
No moment could have been more peaceful ; the blue 
clear sky overhead, the breath of summer, and the 
soothing spice of the pine trees. A shepherd dog 
came bounding from the doorway to meet him. 

It was his favorite cow dog. Usually when Joe 
came back the dog would be far down the road to 
forestall him. He had wondered, absently, coming 
up, at the dog's delay. A dog is most of all a 
creature of habit; only something unusual would 
detain him. However the dog was here; as the 
man drew up he rushed out to greet him. A rush, 
a circle, a bark, and a whine of welcome. Perhaps 
the dog had been asleep. 

But Joe noticed that whine; he was wise in the 
ways of dogs; when Ponto whined like that there 
was something unusual. It was not effusive or 
spontaneous; but rather of the delight of succor. 
After scarce a minute of petting, the dog squatted 
and faced to the westward. Hi3 whine was start- 
ling; almost fearful. 

Pizzozi knew that something was wrong. The 
dog drew up, his stub tail erect, and his hair all 
bristled; one look was for his master and the other 
whining and alert to Mt. Heckla. Puzzled, Joe 
gazed at the mountain. But he saw nothing. 

Was it the canine instinct, or was it coincidence? 
We have the aceount from Pizzozi. From the words 
of the Italian, the dog was afraid. It was not the 
way of Ponto; usually in the face of danger he 
was alert and eager; now he drew away to the 
cabin. Joe wondered. 

Inside the shack he found nothing but evidence of 
departure. There was no sign of his brothers. It 
was his turn to go to sleep ; he was wearied almost 
to numbness, for forty-eight hours he had not closed 
an eyelid. On the table were a few unwashed 
dishes and crumbs of eating. One of the three rifles 
that hung usually on the wall was missing; the cof- 
fee pot was on the floor with the lid open. On the 
bed the coverlets w§re mussed up. It was a temp- 
tation to go to sleep. Back of him the open door 
and Ponto. The whine of the dog drew hia will 
and his consciousness into correlation. A faint 
rustle in the sugar-pines soughed from the canyon. 

Joe watehed the dog. The sun was just glowing 
over the crest of the mountain; on the western line 
the deep lacy silhouettes of the pine trees and the 
bare bald head of Heckla. What was it? Hia 
brothers should be on hand for the salting; it was 
not their custom to put things off for the morrow. 
Shading his eyes he stepped out of the doorway. 

The dog rose stealthily and walked behind him, 
uneasily, with the same insistent whine and ruffled 
hair. Joe listened. Only the mountain murmurs, 
the sweet breath of the forest, and in the lapse 
of bated breath the rippling melody of the river 
far below him. 

"What you see, Ponto? What you see?" 

At the words the dog sniffed and advanced slight- 



80 



AMAZING STORIES 



ly — a growl and then a sudden scurry to the heels 
of his master. Ponto was afraid. It puzzled 
Pizzozi. But whatever it was that roused hia fear, 
it was on Mt. Heckla. 

This is one of the strange parts of the story — 
the part the dog played, and what came after. 
Although it is a trivial thing it is one of the most 
inexplicable. Did the dog sense it? We have no 
measure for the range of instinct, but we do have 
it that before the destruction of Pompeii the beasts 
roared in their cages. Still, knowing what we now 
know, it is hard to accept the analogy. It may, 
after all have been coincidence. 

Nevertheless it decided Pizzozi. The cattle 
needed salt. He would catch up his pinto and ride 
over to the salt logs. 

There is no moment in the cattle industry quite 
like the salting on the range. It is not the most 
spectacular perhaps, but surely it is not lacking in 
intenseness. The way of Pizzozi was musical even 
if not operatic. He had a long-range call, a rising 
rhythm that for depth and tone had a peculiar 
effect on the shattered stillness. It echoed and 
reverberated, and peeled from the top to the bot- 
tom of the mountain. The salt call is the talisman 
of the mountains. 

Alleewahoo!" 

Two thousand cattle augmented by a thousand 
strays held up their heads in answer. The sniff 
of the welcome salt call ! Through the whole range 
of the man's voice the stock stopped in their leafy 
pasture and listened. 

"Alleewahoo!" 

An old cow bellowed. It was the beginning of 
bedlam. From the bottom of the mountain to the 
top and for miles beyond went forth the salt call. 
Three thousand head bellowed to the delight of salt- 
ing. 

Pizzozi rode along. Each lope of his pinto 
through the tall tangled miserie was accented. 
"Alleewafioo! Alleewahoo!" The rending of brush, 
the confusion, and pandemonium spread to the very 
bottom of the leafy gulches. It is no place for a 
pedestrian. Heads and tails erect, the cattle were 
stampeding toward the logs. 

A few head had beat him to it. These he quickly 
drove away and cut the sack open. With haste he 
poured it upon the logs; then he rode out of the 
dust that for yards about the place was tramped 
to the finest powder. The center of a herd of 
salting range stock is no place for comfort. The 
man rode away; to the left he ascended a low 
knob where he would be safe from the stampede; 
but close enough to distinguish the brands. 

In no time the place was alive with milling stock. 
Old cows, heifers, bulls, calves, steers rushed out 
of the crashing brush into the clearing. There is 
no moment exactly like it. What before had been 
a broad clearing of brownish reddish dust was 
trampled into a vast cloud of bellowing blur, a thou- 
sand cattle, and still coming. From the farthest 
height came the echoing call. Pizzozi glanced up 
at the top of the mountain. 

And then a strange thing happened. 

From what we gathered from the excited ac- 
counts of Pizzozi it was instantaneous; and yet by 
the same words it was of such a peculiar and beau- 
tiful effect as never to be forgotten. A bluish 



azure shot though with a myriad"flecks of crimson, 
a peculiar vividness of opalescence; the whole world 
scintillating; the sky, the air, the mountain, a vast 
flame of color so wide and so intense that there 
seemed not a thing beside it. And instantaneous — 
it was over almost before it was started. No noise 
or warning, and no subsequent detonation: as 
silent as winking and much, indeed, like the queer 
blur of color induced by defective vision. All in 
the fraction of a second. Pizzozi had been gazing 
at the mountain. There was no mountain! 

Neither were there cattle. Where before had 
been the shade of the towering peak was now the 
rays of the western sun. Where had been the blur 
of the milling herd and its deafening pandemonium 
was now a strange silence. The transparency of 
the air was unbroken into the distance. Far off 
lay a peaceful range in the sunset. There waa 
no mountain! Neither were there cattle! 

For a moment the man had enough to do with 
his plunging mustang. In the blur of the subse- 
quent second Pizzozi remembers nothing but a 
convulsion of fighting horseflesh bucking, twisting, 
plunging, the gentle pinto suddenly maddened into 
a demon. It required all'the skill of the cowman 
to retain his saddle. 

He did not know that he was riding on the rim 
of Eternity. In his mind was the dim subconscious 
realization of a thing that had happened. In spite 
of all his efforts the horse fought backward. It 
was some moments before he conquered. Then he 
looked. 

It was a slow, hesitant moment. One cannot ac- 
count for what he will do in the open face of .a 
miracle. What the Italian beheld was enough for 
terror. The sheer immensity of the thing was too 
much for thinking. 

At the first sight his simplex mind went numb 
from sheer impotence; his terror to a degree frozen. 
The whole of Mt. Heckla had been shorn away; in 
the place of its darkened shadow the sinking sun 
was blinking in hia face; the whole western sky all 
golden. There was no vestige of the flat salt-clear- 
ing at the base of the mountain. Of the two thou- 
sand cattle milling in the dust not a one remained. 
The man crossed himself in stupor. Mechanically 
he put the spurs to the pinto. 

But the mustang would not. Another struggle 
with bucking, fighting, maddened horseflesh. The 
cow-man must needs bring in all the skill of his 
training; but by the time he had conquered his 
mind had settled within some scope of comprehen- 
sion. 

The pony had good reasons for his terror. This 
time' though the man's mind reeled it did not go 
dumb at the clash of immensity. Not only had the 
whole mountain been torn away, but it3 roots as 
well. The whole thing was up-side down ; the world 
torn to its entrails. In place of what had been the 
height was a gulf so deep that its depths were 
blackness. 

He was standing on the brink. He was a cool 
man, was Pizzozi; but it was hard in the con- 
fusion of such a miracle to think clearly ; much less 
to reason. The prancing mustang was snorting 
with terror. The man glanced down. 

The very dizziness of the gulf, sheer, losing itself 
into shadows and chaos overpowered him, his mind 



THE MAN WHO SAVED THE EARTH 



31 



now clear enough for perception reeled at the dis- 
tance. The depth was nauseating. His whole body 
succumbed to a sudden qualm of weakness: the 
sickness that comes just before falling. He went 
limp in the saddle. 

But the horse fought backward; warned by in- 
stinct it drew back from the sheer banks of the 
gulf. It had no reason but its nature. At the in- 
stant it sensed the snapping of the iron will of its 
master. In a moment it had turned and was racing 
on its wild way out of the mountains. At supreme 
moments a cattle horse will always hit for home. 
The pinto and its limp rider were fleeing on the 
road to Jackson. 

Pizzozi had no knowledge of what had occurred 
in Oakland. To him the whole thing had been but 
a flash of miracle ; he could not reason. He did not 
curb his horse. That he was still in the saddle was 
due more to the near-instinct of his training than 
to his volition- 
He did not even draw up at the cabin. That he 
could make better time with his motor than with his 
pinto did not occur to him; his mind was far too 
busy; and, now that the thing was passed, too full 
of terror. It was forty-four miles to town ; it was 
night and the stars were shining when he rode into 
Jackson. 

CHAPTER IV. 
"MAN — A GREAT LITTLE BUG" 

And what of Charley Huyck? It was his antici- 
pation, and his training which leaves us here to tell 
the story. Were it not for the strange manner of 
his rearing, and the keen faith and appreciation of 
Dr. Hobold there would be to-day no tale to tell. 
The little incident of the burning-glass had grown. 
If there is no such thing as Fate there is at least 
aomething that comes very close to being Destiny. 

On this night we find Charley at the observatory 1 
in Arizona. He i3 a grown man and a great one, 
and though mature not so very far drawn from the 
lad we met on the street selling papers. Tall, 
slender, very slightly stooped and with the same 
idealistic, dreaming eyes of the poet. Surely no 
one at first glance would have taken him for a scien- 
tist. Which he was and was not. 

Indeed, there is something vastly different about 
the science of Charley Huyck. Science to be sure, 
but not prosaic. He was the first and perhaps 
the last of the school of Dr. Robold, a peculiar 
combination of poetry and fact, a man of vision, of 
vast, far-seeing faith and idealism linked and based 
on the coldest and sternest truths of materialism. 
A. peculiar tenet of the theory of Robold: "True 
science to be itself should be half poetry." Which 
any of us who have read or been at school know it 
is not. It is a peculiar theory and though rather 
wild still with some points in favor. 

We all of us know our schoolmasters; especially 
those of science and what they stand for. Facts, 
facts, nothing but facts; no dreams or romance. 
Looking back we can grant them just about the 
emotions of cucumbers. We remember their cold, 
hard features, the prodding after fact, the accumu- 
lation of data. Surely there is no poetry in them. 

Yet we must not deny that they have been by 
far the most potent of all men in the progress of 
civilzation. Not even Robold would deny it. 



The point is this: 

The doctor maintained that from the beginning 
the progress of material civilization had been along 
three distinct channels; science, invention, and ad- 
ministration. It was simply his theory that the 
first two should be one ; that the scientist deal not 
alone with dry fact but with invention, and that 
the inventor, unless he is a scientist, has mastered 
but half his trade. "The really great scientist 
should be a visionary," said Robold, "and an in- 
ventor is merely a poet, with tools." 

Which is where we get Charley Huyck. He 
was a visionary, a scientist, a poet with tools, the 
protege of Dr. Robold. He dreamed things that no 
scientist had thought of. And we are thankful for 
his dreaming. 

The one great friend of Huyck was Professor 
Williams, a man from Charley's home city, who had 
known him even back in the days of selling papers. 
They had been cronies in boyhood, in their teens, 
and again at College. In after years, when Huyck 
had become the visionary, the mysterious Man of 
the Mountain, and Williams a great professor of 
astronomy, the friendship was as strong as ever. 

But there was a difference between them. Wil- 
liams was exact to acuteness, with not a whit of 
vision beyond pure science. He had been reared in 
the old stone-cold theory of exactness; he lived in 
figures. He could not understand Huyck or his 
reasoning. Perfectly willing to follow as far as 
facts permitted he refused to step off into specu- 
lation. 

Which was the point between them. Charley 
Huyck had vision; although exact as any man, he 
had ever one part of his mind soaring out into 
speculation. What is, and what might be, and the 
gulf between. To bridge the gulf was the life 
work of Charley Huyck. 

In the snug little office in Arizona we find them; 
Charley with his feet poised on the desk and Wil- 
liams precise and punctilious, true to his training, 
defending the exactness of his philosophy. It was 
the cool of the evening; the sun was just mellowing 
the heat of the desert. Through the open door and 
windows a cool wind was blowing. Charley was 
smoking; the same old pipe had been the bane of 
Williams's life at college. 

"Then we know?" he was asking. 

"Yes," spoke the professor, "what we know, 
Charley, we know; though of course it is not much. 
It is very hard, nay impossible, to deny figures. We 
have not only the proofs of geology but of astro- 
nomical calculation, we have facts and figures plus 
our sidereal relations all about us. 

"The world must come to an end. It is a hard 
thing to say it, but it is a fact of science. Slowly, 
inevitably, ruthlessly, the end will come. A mere 
question of arithmetic." 

Huyck nodded. It was his special function in 
life to differ with his former roommate. He had 
come down from his own mountain in Colorado just 
for the delight of difference. 

"I see. Your old calculations of tidal retarda- 
tion. Or if that doesn't work the loss of oxygen 
and the water." 

"Either one or the other ; a matter of figures ; the 
earth is being drawn every day by the sun : its ro- 
tation is slowing up; when the time comes it will 



82 



AMAZING STORIES 



act to the sun in exactly the same manner as the 
moon acta to the earth to-day." 

"I understand. It will be a case of eternal night 
for one side of the earth, and eternal day for the 
other. A case of burn up or freeze up." 

"Exactly. Of if it doesn't reach to that, the 
water gas will gradually lose out into sidereal 
space _and we will go to desert. Merely a ques- 
tion of the old dynamical theory of gases; of the 
molecules to be in motion, to be forever colliding 
and shooting out into variance. 

"Each minute, each hour, each day we are losing 
part of our atmospheric envelope. In course of 
time it will all be gone; when it is we shall be all 
desert. For intance, take a look outside. This is 
Arizona. Once it was the bottom of a deep blue 
sea. Why deny when we can already behold the 
beginning." 

The other laughed. 

"Pretty good mathematics at that, professor. 
Only—" 

"Only?" 

"That it is merely mathematics." 
■"Merely mathematics?" The professor frowned 
slightly. "Mathematics do not lie, Charlie, you 
cannot get away from them. What sort of fanciful 
argument are you bringing up. now?" 

"Simply this," returned the other, "that you de- 
pend too much on figures. They are material and 
in the nature of things can only be employed in a 
calculation of what may happen in the future. You 
must have premises to stand on, facts. Your fig- 
ures are rigid: they have no elasticity; unless- your 
foundations are permanent and faultless your de- 
ductions will lead you only into error." 

"Granted; just the point: we know where we 
stand. Wherein are we in error?" 

It was the old point of difference. Huyck was 
ever crashing down the idols of pure materialism. 
Williams was of the world-wide school. 

"You are in error, my dear professor, in a very 
little thing and a very large one." 

"What is that?" 

"Man." 

"Man?" 

"Yes. He's a great little bug. You have left him 
out of your calculation — which he will upset." 

The professor smiled indulgently. "I'll allow; he 
is at least a conceited bug; but you surely cannot 
grant him much when pitted against the Universe.," 

"No? Did it ever occur to you, Professor, what 
the Universe is? The stars for instance? Space, 
the immeasurable distance of Infinity. Have you 
never dreamed?" 

Williams could not quite grasp him. Huyck had 
a habit that had grown out of childhood. Always he 
would allow his opponent to commit himself. The 
professor did not answer. But the other spoke. 

"Ether. You know it. Whether mind or granite. 
For instance, your desert." He placed his finger 
to his forehead. "Your mind, my mind — localized 
ether." 

"What are you driving at?" 

"Merely this. Your universe has intelligence. It 
has mind as well as matter. The little knot called 
the earth is becoming conscious. Your deductions 
are incompetent unless they embrace mind as well 



as matter, and \they cannot do it. Your mathe- 
matics are worthless." 

The professor bit his lip. 

"Always fanciful.." he commented, "and vision- 
ary. Your argument is beautiful, Charley, and 
hopeful. I would that it were true. But all things 
must mature. Even an earth must die." 

"Not our earth. You look into the past, profes- 
sor, for your proof, and I look into the future. 
Give a planet long enough time in maturing and it 
will develop life; give it still longer and it will pro- 
duce intelligence. Our own earth is just coming 
into consciousness; it has thirty million years, at 
least, to run." 

"You mean?" 

"This. That man is a great little bug. Mind: 
the intelligence of the earth." 

This of course is a bit dry. The conversation 
of such men very often is to those who do not care 
to follow them. But it is very pertinent to what 
came after. We know now, everyone knows, that 
Charley Huyck was right. Even Professor Wil- 
liams admits it. Our earth is conscious. In leas 
than twenty-four hours it had to employ its con- 
sciousness to save itself from destruction. 

A bell rang. It was the private wire that con- 
nected the office with the residence. The professor 
picked up the receiver. "Just a minute. Yes? All 
right." Then to his companion: "I must go over 
to the house, Charley. We have plenty of time. 
Then we can go up to the observatory." 

Which shows how little we know about ourselves. 
Poor Professor Williams ! Little did he think that 
those casual words were the last he would ever 
speak to Charley Huyck. 

The whole world seething! The beginning of 
the end! Charley Huyck in the vortex. The next 
few hours were to be the most strenuous of the 
planet's history. 

CHAPTER V. 

APPROACHING DISASTER 

It wa3 night. The stars which had just been 
coming out were spotted by millions over the sleep- 
ing desert. One of the nights that are peculiar to 
the country, which we all of us know so well, if not 
from experience, at least from hearsay; mellow, 
soft, sprinkled like salted fire, twinkling. 

Each little light a message out of infinity. Cos- 
mic grandeur; mind: chaos, eternity — a night for 
dreaming. Whoever had chosen the spot in the 
desert had picked full well. Charley had spoken 
of consciousness. On that night when he gazed 
up at the stars he was its personification. Surely 
a good spirit was watching over the earth. 

A cool wind was blowing; on its breath floated 
the murmurs from the village; laughter, the song 
of children, the purring of motors and the startled 
barking of a dog ; the confused drone of man and 
his civilization. From the eminence the observa- 
tory looked down upon the town and the sheen of 
light, spotting like jewels in the dim glow of the 
desert. To the east the mellow moon just tipping 
over the mountain. Charley stepped to the window. 

He could see it all. The subtle beauty that was 
so akin to poetry: the stretch of desert, the moun- 
tains, the light in the eastern sky; the dull level 



THE MAN WHO SAVED THE EARTH 



83 



shadow that marked the plain to the northward. 
To the west the mountains looming black to the star 
line. A beautiful night; sweetened with the breath 
of desert and tuned to its slumber. 

Across the lawn he watched the professor 
descending the pathway under the acacias. An 
automobile was coming up the driveway ; as it drove 
up under the arcs he noticed its powerful lines and 
its driver; one of those splendid pleasure cars that 
have returned to favor during the iast decade; the 
soft purr of its motor, the great heavy tires and its 
coating of dust. There is a lure about a great car 
coming in from the desert. The car stopped, 
Charley noted. Doubtless some one for Williams. 
If it were, he would go into the observatory atone. 

In the strict sense of the word Huyck was not 
an astronomer. He had not made it his profes- 
sion. But for all that he knew things about the 
stars that the more exact professors had not 
dreamed of. Charley was a dreamer. He had a 
code all his own and a manner of reasoning, Be- 
tween him and the stars lay a secret. 

He had not divulged it, or if he had, it was in 
such an open way that it was laughed at. It wa3 
not cold enough in calculation or, even if so, was 
too far from their deduction. Huyck had imagina- 
tion; his universe was alive and potent; it had in- 
telligence. Matter could not live without it. Man 
was its manifestation; just come to consciousness. 
The universe teemed with intelligence. Charley 
looked at the stars. 

He crossed the office, passed through the recep- 
tion-room and thence to the stairs that led to the 
observatory. In the time that would lapse before 
the coming of his friend he would have ample time 
for observation. Somehow he felt that there was 
time for discovery. He had come down to Arizona 
to employ the lens of his friend the astronomer. 
The instrument that he had erected on his own 
mountain in Colorado had not given him the full 
satisfaction that he expected. Here in Arizona, 
in the dry clear air, which had hitherto given such 
splendid results, he hoped to find what he was after. 
But little did he expect to discover the terrible 
thing he did. 

It is one of the strangest parts of the story 
that he should be here at the very moment when 
Fate and the world's safety would have had him. 
For years he and Dr. Eobold had been at work 
on their visionary projects. They were both dream- 
ers. While others had scoffed they had silently 
been at their great work on kinetics. 

The boy and the burning glass had grown under 
the tutelage of Dr. Robold: the time was about at 
hand when he could out-rival the saying of Arch- 
imedes. Though the world knew it not, Charley 
Huyck had arrived at the point where he could 
literally burn up the earth. 

But he was not sinister; though he had the 
power he had of course not the slightest intention. 
He was a dreamer and it was part of his dream 
that man break his thraldom to the earth and reach 
out into the universe. It was a great conception 
and were it not for the terrible event which took 
his life we have no doubt but that he would have 
succeeded. 

It was ten-thirty when he mounted the steps and 
seated himself. He glanced at his watch: he had 



a good ten minutes. He had computed before just 
the time for the observation. For months he had 
waited for just this moment; he had not hoped to 
be alone and now that he was in solitary possession 
he counted himself fortunate. Only the stars and 
Charley Huyck knew the secret; and not even he 
dreamed what it would amount to. 

From his pocket he drew a number of papers; 
most of them covered with notations; some with 
drawings; and a good sized map in colors. This 
he spread before him, and with his pencil began 
to draw right across its face a net of lines and 
cross lines. A number of figures and a rapid com- 
putation. He nodded and then he made the obser- 
vation. 

It would have been interesting to study the face 
of Charley Huyck during the next few moments. 
At first he was merely receptive, his face placid 
but with the studious intentness of one who has 
come to the moment: and as he began to find what 

he was after an eagerness of satisfaction. Then 

a queer blankness; the slight movement of his body 
stopped, and the tapping of his feet ceased entirely. 

JFor a full five minutes an absolute intentness. 
During that time he was out among the stars be- 
holding what not even he had dreamed of. It was 
more than a secret : and what it was only Charley 
Huyck of all the millions of men could have recog- 
nized. Yet it was more than even he had expected. 
When he at last drew away his face was chalk-like; 
great drops of sweat stood on his forehead : and the 
terrible truth in his eyes made him look ten years 
older. 

"My God!" 

For a moment indecision and strange impotence. 
The truth he had beheld numbed action; from his 
lips the mumbled words : 

"This world; my world; our great and splendid 
mankind!" 

A sentence that was despair and a benediction. 

Then mechanically he turned back to confirm 
his observation. This time, knowing what he would 
see, he was not so horrified: his mind was cleared 
by the plain fact of what he was beholding. When 
at last he drew away his face was settled. 

He was a man who thought quickly — thank the 
stars for that — and, once he thought, quick to 
spring to action. There was a peril poising over 
the earth. If it were to be voided there was not 
a second to lose in weighing up the possibilities. 

He had been dreaming all his life. He had never 
thought that the climax was to be the very opposite 
of what he hoped for. In his under mind he prayed 
for Dr. Robold — dead and gone forever. Were he 
only here to help him! 

He seized a piece of paper. Over its white face 
he ran a mass of computations. He worked like 
lightning; his fingers plying and his mind keyed 
to the pin-point of genius. Not one thing did he 
overlook in his calculation. If the earth had a 
chance he would find it. 

There are always possibilities. He was working 
out the odds of the greatest race since creation. 
While the whole world slept, while the uncounted 
millions lay down in fond security, Charley Huyck 
there in the lonely room on the desert drew out 
their figured odds to the point of infinity. 

"Just one chance in a million." 



AMAZING STORIES 



He waa going to take it. The words were not 
out of his mouth before his long legs were leaping 
down the stairway. In the flash of seconds his 
mind was rushing into clear action. He had had 
years of dreaming; all his years of study and 
tutelage under Robold gave him just the training 
for such a disaster. 

But he needed time. Time! Time! Why was 
it so precious? He must get to his own mountain. 
In six jumps he was in the office. 

It was empty. The professor had not returned. 
He thought rather grimly and fleetingly of their 
conversation a few minutes before; what would 
Williams think now of science and consciousness? 
He picked up the telephone receiver. While he 
waited he saw out of the corner of his eye the car 
in the driveway. It was — 

"Hello. The professor? What? Gone down to 
town? No! Well, say, this is Charley" — he was 
watching the car in front of the building, "Say, 
hello — tell him I have gone home, home! H-o-m-e 
to Colorado — ■ to Colorado, yes — to the mountain 
— the m-o-u-n-t-a-i-n. Oh, never mind— I'll leave 
a note. 

He clamped down the receiver. On the desk he 
scrawled on a piece of paper: 
Ed: 

"Look these up. I'm bound for the mountain. No 
time to explain. There's a car outside. Stay with 
the lena. Don't leave it. If the 1 earth goes up you 
wil" know that I have not reached the mountain." 

Beside the note he placed one of the maps that 

he had in his pocket with his pencil drew a black 

cross just above the center. Under the map were 
a number of computations. 

It is interesting to note that in the stress of the 
great critical moment he forgot the professor's title. 
It was a good thing. When Williams read it he 
recognized the significance. All through their life 
in crucial moments he had been "Ed." to Charley. 

But the note was all he was destined to find. A 
brisk wind was blowing. By a strange balance of 
fate the same movement that let Huyck out of the 
building ushered in the wind and upset calculation. 

It was a little thing, but it was enough to keep 
all the world in ignorance and despair. The eddy 
whisking in through the door picked up the pre- 
cious map, poised it like a tiny plane, and dropped 
it neatly behind a bookcase. 

CHAPTER VI 
A RACE TO SAVE THE WORLD 

Huyck was working in a straight line. Almost 
before his last words on the phone were spoken 
he had requisitioned that automobile outside; 
whether money or talk, faith or force, he was going 
to have it. The hum of the motor sounded in his 
ears as he ran down the steps. He was hatless and 
in his shirt-sleeves. The driver was just putting 
some tools in the car. With one jump Charley had 
him by the collar. 

"Five thousand dollars if you can get me to Ro- 
bold Mountain in twenty hours." 

The very suddenness of the rush caught the man 
by surprise and lurched him against the car, turn- 
ing him half around. Charley found himself 



gazing into dull brown eyes and sardonic laughter: 
a long, thin nose and lips drooped at the corners, 
then as suddenly tipping up — a queer creature, half 
devil, half laughter, and all fun. 

"Easy, Charley, easy ! How much did you say ? 
Whisper it." 

It was Bob Winters. Bob Winters and his car. 
And waiting. Surely no twist of fortune could nave 
been greater. He was a college chum of Huyck's 
and of the professor's. If there was one man that 
could make the run in the time allotted, Bob was 
he. But Huyck was impersonal. With the burden 
on his mind he thought of naught but his destina- 
tion. 

"Ten thousand!" he shouted. 

The man held back his head. Huyck was far too 
serious to appreciate mischief. But not the man. 

"Charley Huyck, of all men. Did young Lochinvar 
come out of the West? How much did you say? 
This desert air and the dust, 'tis hard on the hear- 
ing. She must be a young, fair maiden. Ten thou- 
sand." 

"Twenty thousand. Thirty thousand. Damna- 
tion, man, you can have the mountain. Into the 
car." 

By sheer subjective strength he forced the other 
into the machine. It was not until they were shoot- 
ing out of the grounds on two wheels that he real- 
ized that the man was Bob Winters. Still the 
workings of fate. 

The madcap and wild Bob of the races! Surely 
Destiny was on the job. The challenge of speed 
and the premium. At the opportune moment be- 
fore disaster the two men were brought together. 
Minutes weighed up with centuries and hours out- 
balanced millenniums. The whole world slept; little 
did it dream that its very life was riding north with 
these two men into the midnight. 

Into the midnight! The great car, the pride of 
Winter's heart, leaped between the pillars. At the 
very outset, madcap that he was, he sent her into 
seventy miles an hour; they fairly jumped off the 
hill into the village. At a full seventy-five he took 
the curve; she skidded, sheered half around and 
swept on. 

For an instant Charley held his breath. But the 
master hand held her; she steadied, straightened, 
and shot out into the desert. Above the whir of 
the motor, flying dust and blurring what-not, Char- 
ley got the tones of his companion's voice. He had 
heard the words somewhere in history. 

"Keep your seat, Mr. Greely. Keep your seat!" 

The moon was now far up over the mountain, the 
whole desert was bathed in a mellow twilight; in the 
distance the mountains brooded like an uncertain 
slumbering cloud bank. They were headed straight 
to the northward; though there was a better road 
round about, Winters had chosen the hard, rocky 
bee-line to the mountain. 

He knew Huyck and his reputation; when Charley 
offered thirty thousand for a twenty-hour drive it 
was not mere byplay. He had happened in at the 
observatory to drop in on Williams on his way to 
the coast. They had been classmates; likewise 
he and Charley. 

When the excited man out of the observatory had 
seized him by the collar, Winters merely had laughed. 
He was the speed king. The three boys who had 



THE MAN WHO SAVED. THE EARTH 



gone to school were now playing with the destiny of 
the earth. But only Huyck knew it. 

Winters wondered. Through miles and miles of 
fleeting sagebrush, cacti and sand and desolation, 
he rolled over the problem. Steady as a rock, slight- 
ly stooped, grim and as certain as steel he held to 
the north. Charley Huyck by his side, hatless, coat- 
less, his hair dancing to the wind, all impatience. 
Why was it? Surely a man even for death would 
have time to get his hat. 

The whole thing spelled speed to Bob Winters; 
perhaps it was the infusion of spirit or the inten- 
sity of his companion; but the thrill ran into his 
vitals. Thirty thousand dollars — for a stake like 
that — what was the balance? He had been called 
Wild Bob for his daring; some had called him in- 
sane; on this night his insanity was enchantment. 

It was wild; the lee of the giant roadster a whir- 
ring shower of gravel: into the darkness, into the 
night the car fought over the distance. The terrific 
momentum and the friction of the air fought in 
their faces; Huyck's face was unprotected: in no 
time his lips were cracked, and long before they had 
crossed the level his whole face was bleeding. 

But he heeded it not. He only knew that they 
were moving; that slowly, minute by minute, they 
were cutting down the odds that bore disaster. In 
his mind a maze of figures ; the terrible sight he had 
seen in the telescope and the thing impending. Why 
had he kept his secret? 

Over and again he impeached himself and Dr. 
Robold. It had come to this. The whole world 
sleeping and only himself to save it. Oh, for a few 
minutes, for one short moment! Would he get it? 

At last they reached the mountains. A rough, 
rocky road, and but little traveled. Happily Winters 
had made it once before, and knew it. He took it 
with every bit of speed they could stand, but even 
at that it was diminished to a minimum. 

For hours they fought over grades and gulches, 
dry washouts and boulders. It was dawn, and the 
sky was growing pink when they rode down again 
upon the level. It was here that they ran across 
their first trouble; and it was here that Winters 
began to realize vaguely what a race they might be 
running. 

The particular level which they had entered was 
an elbow of the desert projecting into the mountains 
just below a massive, newly constructed dam. The 
reservoir had but lately been filled, and all was 
being put in readiness for the dedication. 

An immense sheet of water extending far back 
into the mountains — it was intended before long 
to transform the desert into a garden. Below, in the 
valley, was a town, already the center of a prosper- 
ous irrigation settlement ; but soon, with the added 
area, to become a flourishing city. The elbow, 
where they struck it, was perhaps twenty miles 
across. Their northward path would take them just 
outside the tip where the foothills of the opposite 
mountain chain melted into the desert. Without 
ado Winters put on all speed and plunged across the 
sands. And then: 

It was much like winking; but for all that some- 
thing far more impressive. To Winters, on the left 
hand of the car and with the east on the right hand, 
it was much as if the sun had suddenly leaped up 
and as suddenly plumped down behind the horizon—: 



85 

a vast vividness of scintillating opalescence: an 
azure, naming diamond shot by a million fire points. 

Instantaneous and beautiful. In the pale dawn 
of the desert air its wonder and color were beyond 
all beauty. Winters caught it out of the corner of 
his eye; it was so instantaneous and so illusive that 
he was not certain. Instinctively he looked to his 
companion. 

But Charley, too, had seen it. Hi3 attitude of 
waiting and hoping was vigorized into vivid action. 
He knew just what it was. With one hand he 
clutched Winters and fairly shouted. 

"On, on, Bob! On, as you value your life. Put 
into her every bit of speed you have got." 

At the same instant, at the same breath came a 
roar that was not to be forgotten ; crunching, roll- 
ing, terrible— like the mountain moving. 

Bob knew it. It was the dam. Something had 
broken it. To the east the great wall of water fall- 
out of the mountains! A beautiful sight and ter- 
rible; a relentless glassy roller fringed along its 
base by a lace of racing foam. The upper part was 
as smooth as crystal; the stored-up waters of the 
mountain moving out compactly. The man thought 
of the little town below and its peril. But Huyck 
thought also. He shouted in Winter's ear: 

"Never mind the town. Keep straight north. Over 
yonder to the point of the water. The town will 
have to drown." 

It was inexorable; there was no pity; the very 
strength and purpose of the command drove into 
the other's understanding. Dimly now he realized 
that they were really running a race against time. 
Winters was a daredevil ; the very catastrophe sent 
a thrill of exultation through him. It was the cli- 
max, the great moment of his life, to be driving at 
a hundred miles an hour under that wall of water. 

The roar was terrible, Before they were half 
across it seemed to the two men that the very 
sound would drown them. There was nothing in the 
world but pandemonium. The strange flash was 
forgotten in the terror of the living wall that was 
reaching out to engulf them. Like insects they 
whizzed in the open face of the deluge. When they 
had reached the tip they were so close that the out- 
running fringe of the surf was at their wheel3. 

Around the point with the wide open plain be- 
fore them. With the flood behind them it was noth- 
ing to outrun it. The waters with a wider stretch 
spread out. In a few moments they had left all be- 
hind them. 

But Winters wondered; what was the strange 
flash of evanescent beauty? He knew this dam and 
its construction; to outlast the centuries. It had 
been whiffed in a second. It was not lightning. He 
had heard no sound other than the rush of the 
waters. He looked to his companion. 

Hueyk nodded. 

"That's the thing we are racing. We have only 
a few hours. Can we make it?" 

Bob had thought that he was getting all the speed 
possible out of his motor. What it yielded from 
that moment on was a revelation. 

It is not safe and hardly possible to be driving 
at such speed on the desert. Only the best car and 
a firm roadway can stand it. A sudden rut, squirrel 
hole, or pocket of sand is as good as destruction. 
They rushed on til! noon. 



86 



AMAZING STORIES 



Not even Wjnters, with all his alertness, could 
avoid it. Perhaps he was weary. The tedious 
hours, the racking speed had worn him to exhaustion. 
They had ceased to individualize, their way a blur, 
a nightmare of speed and distance. 

It came suddenly, a blind barranca — one of those 
sunken, useless channels that are death to the un- 
wary. No warning. 

It was over just that quickly. A mere flash of 
consciousness plus a sensation of flying. Two men 
broken on the sands and the great, beautiful roads- 
ter a twisted ruin. 



CHAPTER VII. 

A RIVEN CONTINENT 

But back to the world. No one knew about 
Charley Huyck nor what was occurring on the 
desert. Even if we had it would have been impos- 
sible to construe connection. 

After the news out of Oakland, and the destruc- 
tion of Mt. Heckla, we were far too appalled. The 
whole thing was beyond us. Not even the scientists 
with all their data could find one thing to work on. 
The wires of the world buzzed with wonder and 
with panic. We were civilized. It is really strange 
how quickly, in spite of our boasted powers, we 
revert to the primitive. 

Superstition cannot die. Where was no explana- 
tion must be miracle. The thing had been repeated. 
When would it strike again. And where? 

There was not long to wait. But this time the 
stroke was of far more consequence and of far more 
terror. The sheer might of the thing shook the 
earth. Not a man or government that would not 
resign in the face of such destruction. 

It was omnipotent. A whole continent had been 
riven. It would be impossible to give description 
of such catastrophe; no pen can tell it any more 
than it could describe the creation. We can only 
follow in its path. 

On the morning after the first catastrophe, at 
eight o'clock, just south of the little city of Santa 
Cruz, on the north shore of the Bay of Monterey, 
the same light and the same, though not quite the 
same, instantaneousness. Those who beheld it re- 
port a vast ball of azure blue and opalescent fire 
and motion ; a strange sensation of vitalized vibra- 
tion; of personified living force. In shape like a 
marble, as round as a full moon in its glory, but of 
infinitely more beauty. 

It came from nowhere; neither from above the 
earth nor below it. Seeming to leap out of nothing, 
it glided or rather vanished to the eastward. Still 
the effect of winking, though this time, perhaps 
from a distanced focus, more vivid. A dot or 
marble, like a full moon, burning, opal, soaring to 
the eastward. 

And instantaneous. Gone as soon as it was come; 
noiseless and of phantom beauty ; like a finger of the 
Omnipotent tracing across the world, and as ter- 
rible. The human mind had never conceived a thing 
so vast. 

Beginning at the sands of the ocean the whole 
country had vanished; a chasm twelve miles wide 
and of unknown depth running straight to the east- 
ward. Where had been farms and homes was noth- 



ing; the mountains had been seared like butter. 
Straight as an arrow. 

Then the roar of the deluge. The waters of the 
Pacific breaking through its sands and rolling into 
the Gulf of Mexico. That there was no heatj was 
evidenced by the fact that there was no steam. The 
thing could not be internal. Yet what was it? 

One can only conceive in figures. From the 
shores of Santa Cruz to the Atlantic — a few sec- 
onds; then out into the eastern ocean straight out 
into the Sea of the Sargasso. A great gulf riven 
straight across the face of North America. 

The path seemed to follow the sun; it bore to the 
eastward with a slight southern deviation. The 
mountains it cut like cheese. Passing just north 
of Fresno it seared through the gigantic Sierras 
halfway between the Yosemite and Mt. Whitney, 
through the great desert to southern Nevada, thence 
across northern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Ar- 
kansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, entering 
the Atlantic at a point half-way between Brunswick 
and Jacksonville. A great canal twelve miles in 
width linking the oceans. A cataclysmic blessing. 
Today, with thousands of ships bearing freight 
over its water, we can bless that part of the dis- 
aster. 

But there was more to come. So far the miracle 
had been sporadic. Whatever had been its force it 
had been fatal only on point and occasion. In a 
way it had been local. The deadly atmospheric com- 
bination of its aftermath was invariable in its re- 
cession. There was no suffering. The death that 
it dealt was the death of obliteration. But now it 
entered on another stage. 

The world is one vast ball, and, though large, still 
a very small place to live in. There are few of us, 
perhaps, who look upon it, or even stop to think of 
it, as a living being. Yet it is just that. It has its 
currents, life, pulse, and its fevers; it is coordinate; 
a million things such as the great streams of the 
ocean, the swirls of the atmosphere, make it a place 
to live in. And we are conscious only, or mostly, 
through disaster. 

A strange thing happened. 

The great opal like a mountain of fire had riven 
across the continent. From the beginning and with 
each succession the thing was magnified. But it 
was not until it had struck the waters of the At- 
lantic that we became aware of its full potency and 
its fatality. 

The earth quivered at the shock, and man stood 
on his toes in terror. In twenty-four hours our 
civilization was literally falling to pieces. We were 
powerful with the forces that we understood; but 
against this that had been literally ripped from the 
unknown we were insignificant. The whole world 
was frozen. Let us see. 

Into the Atlantic! The transition. Hitherto 
silence. But now the roar of ten thousand million 
Niagaras, the waters of the ocean rolling, catapult- 
ing, roaring into the gulf that had been seared in 
its bosom. The Gulf Stream cut in two, the cur- 
rents that tempered our civilization sheared in a 
second. Straight into the Sargasso Sea. The great 
opal, liquid fire, luminiscent, a ball like the setting 
sun, lay poised upon the ocean. It was the end 
of the earth! 

What was this thing? The whole world knew of 



THE MAN WHO SAVED THE EARTH 



87 



it in a second. And not a one could tell. In less 
than forty hours after its first appearance in Oak- 
land it had consumed a mountain, riven a continent, 
and was drjnking up an ocean. The tangled sea of 
the Sargasso, dead calm for ages, was a cataract; a 
swirling torrent of maddened waters rushed to the 
opal — and disappeared. 

It was hellish and out of madness; a3 beautiful 
as it was uncanny. The opal high as the Himalayas 
brooding upon the water ; its myriad colors blending, 
winking in a phantasm of iridescence. The beauty of 
its light could be seen a thousand miles. A thing out 
of mystery and out of forces. We had discovered 
many things and knew much; but had guessed no 
such thing as this. It was vampirish, and it was 
literally drinking up the earth. 

Consequences were immediate. The point of con- 
tact was fifty miles across, the waters of the At- 
lantic with one accord turned to the magnet. The 
Gulf Stream veered straight from its course and 
out across the Atlantic. The icy currents from 
the poles freed from the warmer barrier descended 
along the coasts and thence out into the Sargasso 
Sea. The temperature of the temperate zone dipped 
below the point of a blizzard. 

The first word come out of London. Freezing! 
And in July! The fruit and entire harvest of north- 
ern Europe destroyed. Olympic games at Copen- 
hagen postponed by a foot of snow. The river 
Seine frozen. Snow falling in New York. Crops 
nipped with frost as far south as Cape Hatteras. 

A fleet of airplanes was despatched from the 
United States and another from the west coast of 
Africa. Not half of them returned. Those that did 
reported even more disaster. The reports that were 
handed in were appalling. They had sailed straight 
on. It was like flying into the sun ; the vividness of 
the opalescence was blinding, rising for miles above 
them alluring, drawing and unholy, and of a beauty 
that was terror. 

Only the tardy had escaped. It even drew their 
motors, it was like gravity suddenly become vital- 
ized and conscious. Thousands of machines vaulted 
into the opalescence. From those ahead hopelessly 
drawn and powerless came back the warning. But 
hundreds could not escape. 

"Back," came the wireless. "Do not come too 
close. The thing is a magnet. Turn back before 
too late. Against this man is insignificant." 

Then like gnats flitting into fire they vanished 
into the opalescence. 

The others turned back. The whole world freez- 
ing shuddered in horror. A great vampire was 
brooding over the earth. The greatness that man 
had attained to was nothing. Civilization was tot- 
tering in a day. We were hopeless. 

Then came the last revelation; the truth and 
verity of the disaster and the threatened climax. 
The water level of all the coast had gone down. 
Vast ebb tides had gone out not to return. Stretches 
of sand where had been surf extended far out into 
the sea. Then the truth! The thing, whatever it 
was, was drinking up the ocean. 
CHAPTER VIII. 
THE MAN WHO SAVED THE EARTH 

It was tragic; grim, terrible, cosmic. Out of no- 
where had come this thing that was eating up the 



earth. Not a thing out of all our science had there 
been to warn us; not a word from all our wise men. 
We who had built up our civilization, piece by piece, 
were after all but insects. 

We were going out in a maze of beauty into the 
infinity whence we came. Hour by hour the great 
orb of opalescence grew in splendor ; the effect and 
the beauty of its lure spread about the earth ; thril- 
ling, vibrant like suppressed music. The old earth 
helpless. Was it possible that out of her bosom she 
could not pluck one intelligence to save her? Was 
there not one law — no answer? 

Out on the desert with his face to the sun lay the 
answer. Though almost hopeless there was still 
some time and enough of near-miracle to save us. 
A limping fate in the shape, of two Indians and a 
battered runabout at the last moment. 

Little did the two red men know the value of the 
two men found that day on the desert. To them 
the debris of the mighty car and the prone bodies 
told enough of the story. They were Samaritans; 
but there are many ages to bless them. 

As it was there were many hours lost. Without 
this loss there would have been thousands spared 
and an almost immeasurable amount of disaster. 
But we have still to be thankful. Charley Huyck 
was still living. 

He had been stunned; battered, bruised, and un- 
conscious; but he had not been injured vitally. 
There was still enough left of him to drag himself 
to the old runabout and call for Winters. His com- 
panion, as it happened, was in even better shape 
than himself, and waiting. We do not know how 
they talked the red men out of their relic— whether 
by coaxing, by threat, or by force. 

Straight north. Two men battered, worn, bruised, 
but steadfast, bearing in that limping old motor- 
car the destiny of the earth. Fate was still on the 
job, but badly crippled. 

They had lost many precious hours. Winters 
had forfeited his right to the thirty thousand. He 
did not care. He understood vaguely that there 
was a stake over and above all money. Huyck said 
nothing; he was too maimed and too much below 
will-power to think of speaking. What had occurred 
during the many hours of their unconsciousness 
was unknown to them. It was not until they came 
sheer upon the gulf that had been riven straight 
across the continent that the awful truth dawned 
on them. 

To Winters it was terrible. The mere glimpse of 
that blackened chasm was terror. It was bottom- 
less ; so deep that its depths were cloudy ; the misty 
haze of its uncertain shadows was akin to chaos. 
He understood vaguely that it was related to that 
terrible thing they had beheld in the morning. It 
was not the power of man. Some force had been 
loosened which was ripping the earth to its vitals. 
Across the terror of the chasm he made out the 
dim outlines of the opposite wall. A full twelve 
miles across. 

For a moment the sight overcame even Huyck 
himself. Full well he knew; but knowing, as he did, 
the full fact of the miracle was even more than he 
expected. His long years under Robold, his scien- 
tific imagination had given him comprehension. 
Not puny steam, nor weird electricity, but force, 
kinetics — out of the universe. 



AMAZING STORIES 



He knew. But knowing as he did, he was over- 
come by the horror. Such a thing turned loose upon 
the earth! He had lost many hours; he had but a 
few hours remaining. The thought gave him sud- 
den energy. He seized Winters by the arm. 

'To the first town, Bob. To the first town— an 
aerodome." 

There was speed in that motor for all its decades. 
Winters turned about and shot out in a lateral 
course parallel to the great chasm. But for all his 
speed he could not keep back his question. 

"In the name of Heaven, Charley, what did it? 
What is it?" 

Came the answer; and it drove the lust of all 
speed through Winters: 

"Bob," said Charley, "it is the end of the world— 
if we don't make it. But a few hours left. We 
must have an airplane. I must make the moun- 
tain." 

It was enough for Wild Bob. He settled down. 
It was only an old runabout; but he could get speed 
out of a wheelbarrow. He had never driven a race 
like this. Just once did he speak. The words were 
characteristic. 

"A world's record, Charley. And we're going to 
win. Just watch us." 

And they did. 

There was no time lost in the change. The mere 
fact of Huyck's name, his appearance and the man- 
ner of his arrival was enough. For the last hours 
messages had been pouring in at every post in the 
Rocky Mountains for Charley Huyck. After the 
failure of all others many thousands had thought of 
him. 

Even the government, unappreciative before, had 
awakened to a belated and almost frantic eagerness. 
Orders were out that everything, no matter what, 
was to be at his disposal. He had been regarded a3 
visionary; but in the face of what had occurred, 
visions were now the most practical things for 
mankind. Besides, Professor Williams had sent out 
to the world the strange portent of Huyck's note. 
For years there had been mystery on that mountain. 
Could it be? 

Unfortunately we cannot give it the description 
we would like to give. Few men outside of the reg- 
ular employees have ever been to the Mountain of 
Robold. From the very first, owing perhaps to the 
great forces stored, and the danger of carelessness, 
strangers and visitors had been barred. Then, too, 
the secrecy of Dr. Robold— and the respect of his 
successor. But we do know that the burning glass 
had grown into the mountain. 

Bob Winters and the aviator are the only ones 
to tell us; the employees, one and all, chose to re- 
main. The cataclysm that followed destroyed the 
work of Huyck and Robold— but not until it had 
served the greatest deed that ever came out of the 
minds of men. And had it not been for Huyck's in- 
sistence we would not have even the account that 
we are giving. 

It was he who insisted, nay, begged, that his com- 
panions return while there was yet a chance. Full 
well he knew. Out of the universe, out of space he 
had coaxed the forces that would burn up the earth. 
The great ball of luminous opalescence, and the 
diminishing ocean! 

There was but one answer. Through the imagi- 



native genius of Robold and Huyck, fate had work- 
ed up to the moment. The lad and the burning 
glass had grown to Archimedes. 

What happened? 

The plane neared the Mountain of Robold. The 
great bald summit and the four enormous globes of 
crystal. At least we so assume. We have Winter's 
word and that of the aviator that they were of the 
appearance of glass. Perhaps they were not; but 
we can assume it for description. So enormous 
that were they set upon a plain they would have 
overtopped the highest building ever constructed; 
though on the height of the mountain, and in its 
contrast, they were not much more than golf balls. 

It was not their size but their effect that was 
startling. They were alive. At least that is what 
we have from Winters. Living, luminous, burning, 
twisting within with a thousand blending, iridescent 
beautiful colors. Not like electricity but something 
infinitely more powerful. Great mysterious mag- 
nets that Huyck had charged out of chaos. Glowing 
with the softest light ; the whole mountain bright- 
ened as in a dream, and the town of Robold at its 
base lit up with a beauty that was past beholding. 

It wa3 new to Winters. The great buildings and 
the enormous machinery. Engines of strangest pat- 
tern, driven by forces that the rest of the world 
had not thought of. Not a sound ; the whole works 
a complicated mass covering a hundred acres, driv- 
ing with a silence that was magic. Not a whir nor 
frietion. Like a living composite body pulsing and 
breathing the strange and mysterious force that had 
been evolved from Huyck's theory of kinetics. The 
four great steel conduits running from the globes 
down the side of the mountain. In the center, at 
a point midway between the globes, a massive steel 
needle hung on a pivot and pointed directly at the 
sun. 

Winters and the aviator noted it and wondered. 
From the lower end of the needle was pouring a 
luminous stream of pale-blue opalescence, a stream 
much like a liquid, and of an unholy, radiance. But 
it was not a liquid, nor fire, nor anything seen by 
man before. 

It was force. We have no better description than 
the apt phrase of Winters. Charley Huyck was 
milking the sun, as it dropped from the end of 
the four living streams to the four globes that took 
it into storage. The four great, wonderful living 
globes; the four batteries; the very sight of their 
imprisoned beauty and power was magnetic. 

The genius of Huyck and Robold! Nobody but 
the wildest dreamers would have conceived it. The 
life of the sun. And captive to man; at his will 
and volition. And in the next few minutes we were 
to lose it all! But in losing it we were to save our- 
selves. It was fate and nothing else. 

There was but one thing more upon the moun- 
tain — the observatory and another needle appar- 
ently idle; but with a point much like a gigantic 
phonograph needle. It rose square out of the ob- 
servatory, and to Winters it gave an impression of 
a strange gun, or some implement for sighting. 

That was all. Coming with the speed that they 
were making, the airmen had no time for further 
investigation. But even thi3 is comprehensive. 
Minus the force. If we only knew more about that 
or even its theory we might perhaps reconstruct the 



THE MAN WHO SAVED THE EARTH 



89 



■work of Charley Huyck and Dr. Robold. 

They made the landing. Winters, with his na- 
ture, would be in at the finish; but Charley would 
not have it. 

'It is death, Bob," he said. "You have a wife 
and babies. Go back to the world. Go back with all 
the speed you can get out of your motors. Get as 
far away as you can before the end comes." 

With that he bade them a sad farewell. It was 
the last spoken word that the outside world had 
from Charley Huyck. 

The last seen of him he was running up the steps 
of his office. As they soared away and looked back 
they could see men, the employees, scurrying about 
in frantic haste to their respective posts and sta- 
tions. What was it all about? Little did the two 
aviators know. Little did they dream that it was 
the deciding stroke. 

CHAPTER IX. 
THE MOST TERRIFIC MOMENT IN HISTORY 

Still the great ball of Opalescence brooding over 
the Sargasso. Europe now was frozen, and though 
it was midsummer had gone into winter quarters. 
The Straits of Dover were no more. The waters 
had receded and one could walk, if careful, dry- 
shod from the shores of France to the chalk cliffs 
of England. The Straits of Gibraltar had dried up. 
The Mediterranean completely land-locked, was cut 
off forever from the tides of the mother ocean. 

The whole world going dry ; not in ethics, but in 
reality. The great Vampire, luminous, beautiful 
beyond all ken and thinking, drinking up our life- 
blood. The Atlantic a vast whirlpool. 

A strange frenzy had fallen over mankind: men 
fought in the streets and died in madness. It was 
fear of the Great Unknown, and hysteria. At such 
a moment the veil of civilization was torn to tatters. 
Man was reverting to the primeval. 

Then came {he word from Charley Huyck ; flash- 
ing and repeating to every clime and nation. In its 
assurance it was almost as miraculous as the Vam- 
pire itself. For man had surrendered. 

To the People of the World : 

The strange and terrible Opalescence which, for 
the past seventy hours, has been playing havoc with 
the world, is not miracle, nor of the supernatural, 
but a mere manifestation and result of the applica- 
tion of celestial kinetics. Such a thing always was 
and always will be possible where there is intelli- 
gence to control and harness the forces that lie 
about us. Space is not space exactly, but an infinite 
cistern of unknown laws and forces. We may con- 
trol certain laws on earth, but until we reach out 
farther we are but playthings. 

Man is the intelligence of the earth. The time 
will come when he must be the intelligence of a 
great deal of space as well. At the present time you 
are merely fortunate and a victim of a kind fate. 
That I am the instrument of the earth's salvation is 
merely chance. The real man is Dr. Robold. When 
he picked me up on the streets I had no idea that 
the sequence of time would drift to this moment. 
He took me into his work and taught me. 

Because he was sensitive and was laughed at, we 
worked in secret. And since his death, and out of 
respect to his memory, I have continued in the same 



manner. But I have written down everything, all 
the laws, computations, formulas— everything ; and 
I am now willing it to mankind. 

Robolt had a theory on kinetics. It was strange 
at first and a thing to laugh at; but he reduced it 
to laws as potent and as inexorable as the laws of 
gravitation. 

The luminous Opalescence that has almost de- 
stroyed us is but one of its minor manifestations. 
It is a message of sinister intelligence; for back of 
it all is an Intelligence. Yet it is not all sinister. 
It is self-preservation. The time is coming when 
eons of ages from now our own man will be forced 
to employ just such a weapon for his own preserva- 
tion. Either that or we shall die of thirst and 
agony. 

Let me ask you to remember now, that whatever 
you have suffered, you have saved a world. I shall 
now save you and the earth. 

In the vaults you will find everything. All the 
knowledge and discoveries of the great Dr. Robold, 
plus a few minor findings by myself. 

And now I bid you farewell. You shall soon be 
free. Charley Huyck. 

A strange message. Spoken over the wireless 
and flashed to every clime, it roused and revived the 
hope of mankind. Who was this Charley Huyck? 
Uncounted millions of men had never heard his 
name; there were but few, very few who had. 

A message out of nowhere and of very dubious 
and doubtful explanation. Celestial kinetics! Un- ' 
doubtedly. But the words explained nothing. How- 
ever, man was ready to accept anything, so long as 
it saved him. 

For a more lucid explanation we must go back to 
the Arizona observatory and Professor Ed. Williams. 
And a strange one it was truly; a certain proof that 
consciousness is more potent, far more so than 
mere material; also that many laws of our astron- 
omers are very apt to be overturned in spite of their 
mathematics. 

Charley Huyck was right. You cannot measure 
intelligence with a yard-stick. Mathematics do not 
lie; but when applied to consciousness they are very 
likely to kick backward. That is precisely what had 
happened. 

The suddenness of Huyck's departure had puz- 
zled Professor Williams; that, and the note which 
he found upon the table. It was not like Charley 
to go off so in the stress of a moment. He had not 
even taken the time to get his hat and coat. Surely 
something was amiss. 

He read the note carefully, and with a deal of 
wonder. 

"Look these up. Keep by the lens. If the world 
goes up you will know I have not reached the moun- 
tain." 

What did he mean? Besides, there was no data 
for him to work on. He did not know that an errant 
breeze, had plumped the information behind the 
bookcase. Nevertheless he went into the observa- 
tory, and for the balance of the night stuck by the 
lens. 

Now there are uncounted millions of stars in the 
sky. Williams had nothing to go by. A needle in 
the hay-stack were an easy task compared with the 
one that he was allotted. The flaming mystery, 



90 



AMAZING STORIES 



whatever it was that Huyck had seen, was not 
caught by the professor. Still, he wondered. "If 
the world goes up you will know I have not reached 
the mountain." What was the meaning? 

But he was not worried. The professor loved 
Huyck as a visionary and smiled not a little at his 
delightful fancies. Doubtless this was one of them. 
It was not until the news came flashing out of Oak- 
land that he began to take it seriously. Then fol- 
lowed the disappearance of Mount Heekla. "If the 
world goes up" — it began to look as if the words 
had meaning. 

There was a frantic professor during the next 
few days. When he was not with the lens he was 
flashing out messages to the world for Charley 
Huyck. He did not know that Huyck was lying un- 
conscious and almost dead upon the desert. That 
the world was coming to catastrophe he knew full 
well; but where was the man to save it? And most 
of all, what had his friend meant by the words, 
■'look these up"? 

Surely there must be some further information. 
Through the long, long hours he stayed with the 
lens and waited. And he found nothing. 

It was three days. Who will ever forget them? 
Surely not Professor Williams. He was sweating 
blood. The whole world was going to pieces with- 
out the trace of an explanation. All the mathema- 
tics, all the accumulations of the ages had availed 
for nothing. Charley Huyck held the secret. It 
was in the stars, and not an astronomer could find it. 

But with the seventeenth hour came the turn of 
fortune. The professor was passing through the 
office. The door was open, and the same fitful wind 
which had played the original prank was now just 
as fitfully performing restitution. Williams noticed 
a piece of paper protruding from the back of the 
bookcase and fluttering in the breeze. He picked it 
up. The first words that he saw were in the hand- 
writing of Charley Huyck. He read: . 

"In the last extremity— in the last phase when 
there is no longer any water on the earth; when 
even the oxygen of the atmospheric envelope has 
been reduced to a minimum — man, or whatever 
form of intelligence is then upon the earth, must 
go back to the laws which governed his forebears. 
Necessity must ever be the law of evolution. There 
will be no water upon the earth, but there will be 
an unlimited quantity elsewhere. 

"By that time, for instance, the great planet, Jupi- 
ter, will be In just a convenient state for exploita- 
tion. Gaseous now, it will be, by that time, in just 
about the stage when the steam and. water are 
condensing into ocean. Eons of millions of years 
away in the days of dire necessity. By that time 
the intelligence and consciousness of the earth will 
have grown equal to the task. 

"It is a thing to laugh at (perhaps) just at present. 
But when we consider the ratio of man's advance 
in the last hundred years, what will it be in a bil- 
lion? Not all the laws of the universe have been 
discovered, by any means. At present we know 
nothing. Who can tell? 

"Aye, who can tell? Perhaps we ourselves have in 
store the fate we would mete out to another. We 
have a very dangerous neighbor close beside us. 
Mars is in dire straits for water. And we know 
there is life on Mars and intelligence! The very 



fact on its face proclaims it. The oceans have dried 
up; the only way they have of holding life is by 
bringing their water from the polar snow-caps. 
Their canals pronounce an advanced state of coop- 
erative intelligence; there is life upon Mars and in 
an advanced stage of evolution, 

"But how far advanced? It is a small planet, and 
consequently eons of ages in advance of the earth's 
evolution. Tn the nature of things Mars cooled off 
quickly, and life was possible there while the earth 
was yet a gaseous mass. She has gone to her ma- 
turity and into her retrogression; she is approach- 
ing her end. She has had less time to produce intel- 
ligence than intelligence will have — in the end — 
upon the earth. 

"How far has this intelligence progressed? That 
is the question. Nature is a slow worker. It took 
eons of ages to put life upon the earth; it took eons 
of more ages to make this life conscious. How far 
will it go? How far has it gone on Mars?" 

That was as far the the comments went. The 
professor dropped his eyes to the rest of the paper. 
It was a map of the face of Mars, and across its 
center was a black cross scratched by the dull point 
of a soft pencil. 

He knew the face of Mars. It was the Ascrams 
Lucus. The oasis at the juncture of a series of 
canals running mueh like the spokes of a wheel. The 
great Uranian and Alander Canals coming in at 
about right angles. 

In two jumps the professor was in the observa- 
tory with the great iens swung to focus. It was 
the great moment out of his lifetime, and the 
Strangest and most eager moment, perhaps, ever 
lived by any astronomer. His fingers fairly twitch- 
ed with tension. There before his view was the full 
face of our Martian neighbor! 

But was it? He gasped out a breath of startled 
exclamation. Was it Mars that he gazed at; the 
whole face, the whole thing had been changed be- 
fore him. 

Mars has ever been red. Viewed through the 
telescope it has had the most beautiful tinge imag- 
inable, red ochre, the weird tinge of the desert in 
sunset. The color of enchantment and of hell! 

For it is so. We know that for ages and ages 
the planet has been burning up; that life was pos- 
sible only in the dry sea-bottoms and under irriga- 
tion. The rest, where the continents once were, was 
blazing desert. The redness, the beauty, the en- 
chantment that we so admired was burning hell. 

All this had changed. 

Instead of this was a beautiful shade of iridescent 
green. The red was gone forever. The great 
planet standing in the heavens had grown into infin- 
ite glory. Like the great Dog Star transplanted. 

The professor sought out the Ascrajus Lucus. It 
was hard to find. The whole face had been trans- 
figured; where had been canals was now the beauti- 
ful sheen of green and verdure. He realized what 
he was beholding and what he had never dreamed 
of seeing; the seas of Mars filled up. 

With the stolen oceans our grim neighbor had 
come back to youth. But how had it been done. It 
was horror for our world. The great luminescent 
ball of Opalescence! Europe frozen and New York 
a mass of ice. It was the earth's destruction. How 



THE MAN WHO SAVED THE EARTH 



91 



long could the thing keep up; and whence did it 
come? What was it? 

He sought for the Ascneus Lucus. And he be- 
held a strange sight. At the very spot where should 
have been the juncture of the canals he caught what 
at first looked like a pin-point flame, a strange 
twinkling light with flitting glow of Opalescence. 
He watched it, and he wondered. It seemed to the 
professor to grow; and he noticed that the green 
about it was of different color. It was winking, 
like a great force, and much as if alive ; baneful. 

It was what Charley Huyck had seen. The pro- 
fessor thought of Charley. He had hurried to the 
mountain. What could Huyck, a mere man, do 
against a thing like this? There was naught to do 
but sit and watch it drink of our life-blood. And 
then — 

It WE3 the message, the strange assurance that 
Huyck was flashing over the world. There was 
no lack of confidence in the words he was speaking. 
"Celestial Kinetics," so that was the answer ! Cer- 
tainly it must be so with the truth before him. Wil- 
liams was a doubter no longer. And Charley Huyck 
could save them. The man he had humored. Eag- 
erly he waited and stuck by the lens. The whole 
world waited. 

It was perhaps the most terrific moment since 
creation. To describe it would be like describing 
doomsday. We all of us went through it, and we 
all of us thought the end had come; that the earth 
was torn to atoms and to chaos. 

The State of Colorado was lurid with a red light 
of terror; for a thousand miles the flame shot above 
the earth and into space, If ever spirit went out in 
glory that spirit was Charley Huyck! He had come 
to the moment and to Archimedes. The whole world 
rocked to the recoil. Compared to it the mightiest 
earthquake was but a tender shiver. The conscious- 
ness of the earth had spoken! 

The professor was knocked upon the floor. He 



knew not what had happened. Out of the windows 
and to the north the flame of Colorado, like the 
whole world going up. It was the last moment. 
But he was a scientist to the end. He had sprained 
his ankle and his face was bleeding; but for all that 
he struggled, fought his way to the telescope. And 
he saw: 

The great planet with its sinister, baleful, wicked 
light in the center, and another light vastly larger 
covering up half of Mars. What was it? It was 
moving. The truth set him almost to shouting. 

It was the answer of Charley Huyck and of the 
world. The light grew smaller, smaller, and almost 
to a pin-point on its way to Mars. 

The real climax was in silence. And of all the 
world only Professor Williams beheld it. The two 
lights coalesced and spread out; what it was on 
Mars, of course, we do not know. 

But in a few moments all was gone. Only the 
green of the Martian Sea winked in the sunlight. 
The luminous opal was gone from the Sargasso. The 
ocean lay in peace. 

It was a terrible three days. Had it not been for 
the work of Robold and Huyck life would have been 
destroyed. The pity of it that all of their discov- 
eries have gone with them. Not even Charley real- 
ized how terrific the force he was about to loosen. 

He had carefully locked everything in vaults for 
a safe delivery to man. He had expected death, but 
not the cataclysm. The whole of Mount Robold was 
shorn away ; in its place we have a lake fifty miles 
in diameter. 

So much for celestial kinetics. 

And we look to a green and beautiful Mars. Wa 
hold no enmity. It was but the law of self-preserva- 
tion. Let us hope they have enough water ; and that 
their seas will hold. We don't blame them, and we 
don't blame ourselves, either for that matter. We 
need what we have, and we hope to keep it. 
(The End.) 



The Thing from "Outside' 

By GEORGE ALLEN ENGLAND 
(Concluded) 



That Marr was dead and the girl alive — that much, 
at all events, was solid. He could hold to that; 
he could climb back, with that, to the real world 
again. 

Jandron climbed back, came back. Time healed 
him, as it healed the girl. After a long, long while, 
they had speech together. Cautiously he sounded 
her wells of memory. He saw that she recalled 
nothing. So he told her white lies about capsized 
canoes and the sad death — in realistically-described 
rapids — of all the party except herself and him. 

Vivian believed. Fate, Jandron knew, was being 
very kind to both of them. 

But Vivian could never understand in the least 
why, her husband, not very long after marriage, 



asked her not to wear a wedding-ring or any ring 
whatever. 

"Men are so queer!" covers a multitude of psychic 
agonies. 

Life, for Jandron — life, softened by Vivian — knit 
itself up into some reasonable semblance of a nor- 
mal pattern. But when, at lengthening intervals, 
memories even now awake— memories crawling amid 
the slime of cosmic mysteries that it is madness 
to approach — or when at certain times Jandron sees 
a ring of any sort, his heart chills with a cold that 
reeks of the horrors of Infinity. 

And from shadows past the boundaries of our 
universe seem to beckon Things that, God grant, 
can never till the end of time be known on earth. 



AMAZING STORIES 




THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR 



93 




jjjjlF COURSE I shall not pretend to con- 
sider it any matter for wonder, that the 
extraordinary case of M. Valdemar has 
ixcited discussion. It would have been 
l miracle had it not — especially under 
the circumstances. Through the desire of all parties 
concerned, to keep the affair from the public, at 
least for the present, or until we had farther oppor- 
tunities for investigation — through our endeavors 
to effect this — a garbled or exaggerated account 
made its way into society, and became the source of 
many unpleasant misrepresentations; and, very 
naturally, of a great deal of disbelief- 
It is now rendered necessary that I give the facts 
— as far as I comprehend them mysetf. They are, 
succinctly, these: 

My attention, for the last three years, had been 
repeatedly drawn to the subject of Mesmerism; and 
about nine months ago, it occurred to me, quite sud- 
denly, that in the series of experiments made hither- 
to, there had been a very remarkable and most un- 
accountable omission: no person had a3 yet been 
mesmerized in articulo mortis. It remained to be 
seen, first, whether, in such condition, there existed 
in the patient any susceptibility to the magnetic in- 
fluence; secondly, whether, if any existed, it was 
impaired or increased by the condition; thirdly, to 
what extent, or for how long a period, the encroach- 
ments of Death might be arrested by the process. 
There were other points to be ascertained, but these 
most excited my curiosity — the last in especial, from 
the immensely important character of its con- 
sequences. 

In looking around me for some subject by whose 
means I might test these particulars, I was brought 
to think of my friend, M. Ernest Valdemar, the 
well-known compiler of the "Bibliotheca Forensica," 
and author (under the 710m de plume of Issachar 
Marz) of the Polish versions of "Wallenstein" and 
"Gargantua." M. Valdemar, who has resided prin- 
cipally at Harlem, N. Y., 
since the year 1839, is 
(or was) particularly no- 
ticeable for the extreme 
spareness of his person — 
his lower limbs much re- 
sembling those of John 
Randolph; and, also, for 
the whiteness of his 
whiskers, in violent con- 
trast to the blackness of 
his hair- — the latter, in 
consequence, being very 



JlflfcSM ERISM in this gruesome story by Edgar 
LV1 Allan Poc lias again been used as a vehicle for 
telling us his views about the higher philosophy 
and the future it/arid. Mesmerism, in another of Poe's 
stories, "Mesmeric Revelations'' is made an agreeable 
setting for some of Ins philosophy, which he is willing 
to lei! about without farcing it upon us in the too prev- 
alent modem system. Bui here we find the same author 
in a svmewhai different character. It is ai/ain mesmer- 
ism which he employs, it is again a bit of philosophy to 
be told lis, but the story lends up gradually and most 
skillfully to a denouement , the most horrifying and 
terrible in all modern slory telling. This very short 
story in its horror is unique. 



generally mistaken for 
wig. His temperament was markedly nervous, and 
rendered him a good subject for mesmeric experi- 
ment. On two or three occasions I had put him to 
sleep with little difficulty, but was disappointed in 
other results which his peculiar constitution had 
naturally led me to anticipate. His will was at 
no period positively, or thoroughly, under my con- 
trol, and in regard to clairvoyance, I could ac- 
complish with him nothing to be relied upon. I 
always attributed my failure at these points to 
the disordered state of his health. For some 
months previous to my becoming acquainted with 
him, his physicians had declared him in a con- 
firmed phthisis. It was his custom, indeed, to 
speak calmly of his approaching dissolution, as 



of a matter neither to be avoided nor regretted. 

When the ideas to which I have alluded first oc- 
curred to me, it was of course very natural that I 
should think of M. Valdemar. I knew the steady 
philosophy of the man too well to apprehend any 
scruples from him; and he had no relatives in 
America who would be likely to interfere. I spoke 
to him frankly upon the subject; and to my sur- 
prise, his interest seemed vividly excited. I say to 
my surprise; for, although he had always yielded hia 
person freely to my experiments, he had never be- 
fore given me any tokens of sympathy with what 
I did. His disease was of that character which 
would admit of exact calculation in respect to the 
epoch of its termination in death; and it was 
finally arranged between us that he would send for 
me about twenty-four hours before the period an- 
nounced by his physicians as that of his decease. 

It is now rather more than seven months since 
I received, from Valdemar himself, the subjoined 
note: 

"My dear P , 

"You may as well come now. D and F 

are agreed that I cannot hold out beyond to-morrow 
midnight; and I think they have hit the time very 
nearly. "Valdemar." 

I received this note within half an hour after it 
was written, and in fifteen minutes more I was in 
the dying man's chamber. I had not seen him for 
ten days, and was appalled by the fearful alteration 
which the brief interval had wrought in him. His 
face wore a leaden hue; the eyes were utterly lustre- 
less; and the emaciation was so extreme, that the 
skin had been broken through by the cheek-bones. 
His expectoration was excessive. The pulse was 
barely perceptible. He retained, nevertheless, in a 
very remarkable manner, both his mental power 
and a certain degree of physical strength. He spoke 
with distinctness, took some palliative medicines 
without aid — and, when I 
entered the room, was oc- 
cupied in penciling memo- 
randa in a pocketbook. He 
was propped up in the bed 

by pillows. Doctors D 

and F were in at- 
tendance. 

After pressing Val.de- 
mar's hand, I took these 
gentlemen aside, and ob- 
tained from them a min- 
ute account of the pa- 
tient's condition. The left 
lung had been for eighteen months in a semi osseous 
or cartilaginous 3tate, and was, of course, entirely 
useless for all purposes of vitality. The right, in 
its upper portion, was also partially, if not 
thoroughly, ossified, while the lower region was 
merely a mass of purulent tubercles, running one 
into another. Several extensive perforations existed; 
and, at one point, permanent adhesion to the ribs 
had taken place. These appearances in the right 
lobe were of comparatively recent date. The ossifica- 
tion had proceeded with very unusual rapidity; no 
sign of it had been discovered a month before, and 
the adhesion had only been observed during the 
three previous days. Independently of the phthisis, 
the patient was suspected of aneurism of the aorta; 



94 



AMAZING STORIES 



but on this point the osseous symptoms rendered an 
■exact diagnosis impossible. It was the opinion of 
both physicians that M. Valdemar would die about 
midnight on the morrow (Sunday). It was then 
seven o'clock on Saturday evening. 

On quitting the invalid's bedside to hold con- 
versation with myself, Doctors D and F — — 

had bidden him a final farewell. It had not been 
their intention to return; but at my request, they 
agreed to look in upon the patient about ten the 
next night. 

When they had gone, I spoke freely with M. 
Valdemar on the subject of his approaching dis- 
solution, as well as, more particularly, of the ex- 
periment proposed. He stil! professed himself quite 
willing and even anxious to have it made, and 
urged me to commence it at once. A male and a 
female nurse were in attendance; but 1 did not fee! 
myself altogether at liberty to engage in a task of 
this character with no more reliable witnesses than 
these people, in case of sudden accident, might 
prove. I therefore postponed operations until about 
eight the next night, when the arrival of a medical 
student with whom I had some acquaintance (Mc. 
Theodore L 1), relieved me from further em- 
barrassment. It had been my design, originally, to 
wait for the physicians ; but I was induced to pro- 
ceed, first, by the urgent entreaties of M. Valde- 
mar, and secondly, by my conviction that I had not 
a moment to lose, as he was evidently sinking fast. 

Mr. L 1 was so kind as to accede to my desire 

that he would take notes of all that occurred; and 
it is from his memoranda that what I now have to 
relate is, for the most part, either condensed or 
copied verbatim. 

It wanted about five minutes of eight when, tak- 
ing the patient's hand, I begged him to state, as 

distinctly as he could, to Mr. L 1, whether he 

CM. Valdemar) was entirely willing that I should 
make the experiment of mesmerizing him in his 
then condition. 

He replied feebly, yet quite audibly, "Yes, I wish 
to be mesmerized" — adding immediately afterward, 
"I fear you have deferred it too long." 

While he spoke thus, I commenced the passes 
which I had already found most effectual in sub- 
duing him. He was evidently influenced with the 
first lateral stroke of my hand across his forehead; 
but although I exerted all my powers, no further 
perceptibie effect was induced until some minutes 

after ten o'clock when Doctors D and F 

called, according to appointment. I explained to 
them, in a few words, what I designed, and as they 
opposed no objection, saying that the patient was 
already in the death agony, I proceeded without 
hesitation— exchanging, however, the lateral passes 
for downward ones, and directing my gaze entirely 
.into the right eye of the sufferer. 

By this time his pulse was imperceptible and his 
breathing was stertorous, and at intervals of half 
a minute. 

This condition was nearly unaltered for a quarter 
of an hour. At the expiration of this period, how- 
ever, a natural although a very deep sigh escaped 
the bosom of the dying man, and the stertorous 
breathing ceased — that is to say, its stertorousness 
was no longer apparent; the intervals were un- 
diminished. The patient's extremities were of an 
icy coldness. 



At five minutes before eleven, I perceived un- 
equivocal signs of the mesmeric influence." The 
glassy roll of the eye was changed for that ex- 
pression of uneasy inward examination which is 
never seen except in cases of sleep-waking, and 
which it is quite impossible to mistake. With a 
few rapid lateral passes I made the lids quiver, 
as in incipient sleep, and with a few more I closed 
them altogether. I was not satisfied, however, with 
this, but continued the manipulations vigorously, and 
with the fullest exertion of the will, until I had 
completely stiffened the limbs of the<-slumberer, 
after placing them in a seemingly easy position. 
The legs were at full length ; the arms were nearly 
so, and reposed on the bed at a moderate distance 
from the loins. The head was very slightly elevated. 

When I had accomplished this, it was fully mid- 
night, and I requested the gentlemen present to 
examine M. Valdemar's condition. After a few ex- 
periments, they admitted him to be in an unusually 
perfect state of mesmeric trance. The curiosity of 

both the physicians was greatly excited. Dr. D 

resolved at once to remain with the patient all night, 

whiie Dr. F took leave with a promise to 

return at daybreak. Mr. L 1 and the nurses 

remained. 

We left M. Valdemar entirely undisturbed until 
about three o'clock in the morning, when I ap- 
proached him and found him in precisely the same 

condition as when Dr. F went away — that is to 

say, he lay in the same position; the pulse was im- 
perceptible; the breathing was gentle (scarcely 
noticeable, unless through the application of a 
mirror to the lips) ; the eyes were closed naturally; 
and the limbs were as rigid and as cold as marble. 
Still, the genera] appearance was certainly not that 
of death. 

As I approached M. Valdemar I made a kind 
of half effort to influence his right arm into pursuit 
of my own. as I passed the latter gently to and 
fro above his person. In such experiments with 
this patient, I had never perfectly succeeded before, 
and assuredly I had little thought of succeeding 
now; but to my astonishmnt, his arm very readily, 
although feebly, followed every direction I assigned 
it with mine. I determined to hazard a few words 
of conversation. 

"M. Valdemar," I said, "are you asleep?" He 
made no answer, but I perceived a tremor about 
the lips, and was thus induced to repeat the ques- 
tion, again and again. At its third repetition, his 
whole frame was agitated by a very slight shiver- 
ing; the eyelids unclosed themselves so far as to 
display a white line of a ball; the lips moved slug- 
gishly, and from between them, in a barely audible 
whisper, issued the words : 

"Yes; — asleep now. Do not wake me! — let me 
die so!" 

I here felt the limbs and found them a3 rigid 
as ever. The right arm, as before, obeyed the 
direction of my hand. I questioned the sleep-waker 
again : 

"Do you still feel pain in the breast, M. Valde- 
mar?" 

The answer now was immediate, but even less 
audible than before: 

"No pain — I am dying." 

I did not think it advisable to disturb him further 
just then, and nothing more was said or done until 



THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR 



95 



the arrival of Dr. F , who came a little before 

sunrise, and expressed unbounded astonishment at 
finding the patient still alive. After feeling the 
pulse and applying a mirror to the lips, he re- 
quested me to speak to the sleep-waker again. I 
did so, saying: 

"M, Valdemar, do you still sleep?" 

As before, some minutes elapsed ere a reply was 
made; and during the interval the dying man 
seemed to be collecting his energies to speak. At 
my fourth repetition of the question, he said very 
faintly, almost inaudibiy: 

"Yes; still asleep — dying." 

It was now the opinion, or rather the wish, of 
the physicians, that M. Valdemar should be suffered 
to remain undisturbed in his present apparently 
tranquil condition, until death should supervene — 
and this, it was generally agreed, must now take 
place within a few minutes. I concluded, however, 
to speak to him once more, and merely repeated my 
previous question. 

While I spoke, there came a marked change over 
the countenance of the sleep-waker. The eyes rolled 
themselves slowly open, the pupils disappearing up- 
wardly; the skin generally assumed a cadaverous 
hue, resembling not so much parchment as white 
paper; and the circular hectic spots which, hitherto, 
had been strongly defined in the centre of each 
cheek, went out at once. I use this expression, be- 
cause the suddenness of their departure put me 
in mind of nothing so much as the extinguishment 
of a candle by a puff of the breath. The upper lip, 
at the same time, writhed itself away from the 
teeth, which it had previously covered completely; 
while the lower jaw fell with an audible jerk, leav- 
ing the mouth widely extended, and disclosing in 
full view the swollen and blackened tongue. I pre- 
sume that no member of the party then present had 
been unaccustomed to death-bed horrors; but so 
hideous beyond conception was the appearance of 
M. Valdemar at this moment, that there was a gen- 
eral shrinking back from the region of the bed. 

I now feel that I have reached a point of this 
narrative at which every reader will be startled into 
positive disbelief. It is my business, however, 
simply to proceed- 
There was no longer the faintest sign of vitality 
in M. Valdemar; and concluding him to be dead, we 
were consigning him to the charge of the nurses, 
when a strong vibratory motion was observable in 
the tongue. This continued for perhaps a minute. 
At the expiration of this period, there issued from 
the distended and motionless jaws a voice — such as 
it would be madness in me to attempt describing. 
There are, indeed, two or three epithets which 
might be considered as applicable to it in part; 
I might say, for example, that the sound was harsh, 
and broken, and hollow; but the hideous whole is 
indescribable, for the simple reason that no similar 
sounds have ever jarred upon the ear of humanity. 
There were two particulars, nevertheless, which I 
thought then, and still think, might fairly be stated 
as characteristic of the intonation — as well adapted 
to convey some idea of its unearthly peculiarity. 
In the first place, the voice seemed to reach our 
ears — at least mine — from a vast distance, or from 
some deep cavern within the earth. In the second 
place it impressed me (I fear, indeed, that it will 
be impossible to make myself comprehended) as 



gelatinous or glutinous matters impress the sense 
of touch. 

I have spoke both of "sound" and of "voice." I 
mean to say that the sound was one of distinct — 
of even wonderfully, thrillingly distinct: — syllabifica- 
tion. M. Valdemar spoke — obviously in reply to the 
question I had propounded to him a few minutes 
before. I had asked him, it will be remembered, if 
he still slept. He now said: 

"Yes; — no; — I have been sleeping — and now — 
now — I am dead!" 

No person present even affected to deny, or at- 
tempted to repress, the unutterable, shuddering 
horror which these few words, thus uttered, were 
so well calculated to convey. Mr. L 1 (the stu- 
dent) swooned. The nurses immediately left the 
chamber, and could not be induced to return. My 
own impressions I would not pretend to render in- 
telligible to the reader. For nearly an hour we 
busied ourselves, silently — without the utterance of 

a word — in endeavors to revive Mr. L 1. When 

he came to himself we addressed ourselves again 
to an investigation of M. Valdemar's condition. 

It remained in all respects as I have at last 
described it, with the exception that the mirror no 
longer afforded evidence of respiration. An at- 
tempt to draw blood from the arm failed. I should 
mention, too, that this limb was no farther subject 
to my will. I endeavored in vain to make it follow 
the direction of my hand. The only real indication, 
indeed, of the mesmeric influence, was now found in 
the vibratory movement of the tongue, whenever I 
addressed M. Valdemar a question. He seemed to be 
making an effort to reply, but had no longer suffi- 
cient volition. To queries put to him by any other 
person than myself he seemed utterly insensible — ■ 
although I endeavored to place each member of the 
company in mesmeric rapport with him. I believe 
that I have now related all that is necessary to an 
understanding of the sleep-waker's state at this 
epoch. Other nurses were procured; and at ten 
o'clock I left the house in company with the two 
physicians and Mr. L 1, 

In the afternoon we all called again to see the 
patient. His condition remained precisely the 
same. We had now some discussion as to the 
propriety and feasibility of awakening him; but we 
had little difficulty in agreeing that no good purpose 
would be served by so doing. It was evident that, 
so far, death (or what is usually termed death) had 
been arrested by the mesmeric process. It seemed 
clear to us all that to awaken M. Valdemar would 
be merely to insure his instant, or at least his 
speedy dissolution. 

From this period until the close of last week — 
an interval of nearly seven months — we continued 
to make daily calls at M. Valdemar's house accom- 
panied, now and then, by medical and other friends. 
All this time the 3leep-waker remained exactly aa 
I have at last described him. The nurses' atten- 
tions were continual. 

It was on Friday last that we finally resolved to 
make the experiment of awakening, or attempting 
to awaken him; and it is the (perhaps) unfortunate 
result of this latter experiment which has given rise 
to so much discussion in private circles — to so much 
of what I cannot help thinking unwarranted popular 
feeling. 

For the purpose of relieving M. Valdemar from 



96 



AMAZING STORIES 



iric trance, I made use of the customary 
passes. These, for a time, were unsuccessful. The 
first indication of revival was afforded by a partial 
descent of the iris. It was observed, as especially 
remarkable, that this lowering of the pupil was 
accompanied by the profuse out-Bowing of a yel- 
lowish ichor (from beneath the lids) of a pungent 
and highly offensive odor. 

It was now suggested that I should attempt to 
influence the patient's arm, as heretofore. I made 
the attempt and failed. Dr. F— — then intimated 
a desire to have me put a question. I did so as 
follows : 

"M. Valdemar, can you explain to us what are 
your feelings or wishes now?" 

There was an instant return of the hectic circles 
on the cheeks; the tongue quivered, or rather rolled 
violently in the mouth (although the .jaws and lips 
remained rigid as before) ; and at length the same 
hideous voice which I have already described, broke 
forth : 

"For God's sake!— quick! — quick! — put me to 
sleep — or, quick! — waken me! — quick! — / say to 

THE 



you that I am dead!" 

I was thoroughly unnerved, and for an instant 
remained undecided what to do. At first I made 
an endeavor to recompose (he patient; hut. failing 
in this through total abeyai.ee of the will, I re- 
traced my steps and as earnestly struggled to 
awaken him. In this attempt I soon saw that I 
should be successful— or at least. I soon fancied that 
my success would be complete — and I am sure that 
all in the room were prepared to see the patient 

For what really occurred, however, it is quite 
impossible that any human being could have been 
prepared. 

As I rapidly made the mesmeric passes, amid 
ejaculations of "dead! dead!" absolutely bursting 
from the tongue and not from the lips of the 
sufferer, his whole frame at once — within the space 
of a single minute, or even less, shrunk— crumbled 
— absolutely rntted away beneath my hands. Upon 
the bed, before that whole company, there lay a 
nearly liquid mass of loathsome — of detestable 
putrescence. 

END 



The New Accelerator 



By H. G. WELLS 

(Concluded) 



preparation ia a manageable convenience, but its 
practicability is certainly demonstrated beyond ail 
cavil. 

Since that adventure he has been steadily bring- 
ing its use under control, and I have several times 
and without the slightest bad result, taken measured 
doses under his direction; though I must confess I 
have not yet ventured abroad again while under 
its influence. I may mention, for example, that 
this story has been written at one sitting and with- 
out interruption, except for the nibbling of some 
chocolate, by its means. I began at 6:25, and my 
watch is now very nearly at the minute past 'the 
half-hour. The convenience of securing a long, un- 
interrupted spell of work in the midst of a clay full 
of engagements cannot bo exaggerated. Gibberna' 
is now working at the quantitative handling of his 
preparation, with especial reference to its distinc- 
tive effects upon different types of constitution. He 
then hopes to find a Retarder with which to dilute 
its present rather excessive potency. The Retarder 
will, of course, have an effect the reverse of the 
Accelerator's; used alone it should enable the 
patient to spread a few seconds over many hours 
of ordinary time, and so to maintain an apathetic in- 
action, a giacier-like absence of alacrity, amidst the 
most animated or irritating surroundings. The two 
things together must necessarily work an entire 
revolution in civilized existence. It is the beginning 
of our escape from that Time Garment of which 
Carlyle speaks. While this Accelerator will enable 



us to concentrate ourselves with tremendous impact 
upon any moment or occasion that demands our ut- 
most sense and vigor, the Retarder will enable us 
to pass in passive tranquility through infinite hard- 
ship and tedium. Perhaps I am a little optimistic 
about the Retarder, which has indeed still to be 
discovered, but about the Accelerator there is no 
possible sort of doubt whatever. Its appearance 
upon the market in a convenient, controllable, and 
assimilable form is a matter of the next few months. 
It will be obtainable of all chemists and druggists, 
in small green bottles, at a high but, considering 
its extraordinary qualities, by no means excessive 
price. Gibberne's Nervous Accelerator it will be 
called, and he hopes to be able to supply it in three 
strengths; one in 200, one in 900, and one in 2,000, 
distinguished by yellow, pink, and white labels re- 
spectively. 

No doubt its use renders a great numher of very 
extraordinary things possible; for, of course, the 
most remarkable and, possibly, even criminal pro- 
ceedings may be effected with impunity by thus 
dodging, as it were, into the interstices of time. 
Like all potent preparations it will be liable to abuse. 
We have, however, discussed this aspect of the ques- 
tion very thoroughly, and we have decided that this 
is purely a matter of medical jurisprudence and 
altogether outside our province. We shall manu- 
facture and sell the Accelerator, and, as for the 
consequences — we shall see. 

(The End) 



DR. HACKENSAWS SECRETS 

THOSE who read the famous Dr. Hatfcensaw's Secrets in SCIENCE AND INVENTION tn 
that we have on hand a jrrat irfn. 01 Dr. HjA.n-iiw'! manuscripts which have never 



published hither 



1 AMAZING STORIES, faowev 



Villa 
Tasso 

NORTHWEST FLORIDA 

The Most Beautiful 
Homeland in America 



BUY 
An Ideal Homesite 

In Florida's most Beautiful Section 
VILLA TASSO 

On Bluffs Overlooking Chotawhatchie Bay 

Northwest Florida is just being discovered. In tins glori- 
ous spot, Florida's most beautiful section — 50 miles East 
of Pensecola, on bluffs overlooking the beautiful Chocta- 
wliatclu'e Bay— lies Villa Tasso with its delightful Home- 
sites. 

A newly discovered Florida dreamland abounding in op- 
portunities — Healthful, Invigorating climate with pure 
soft water all year round. In the shadow of Magnolia, 
Pine, Oak, Holly and Palmetto trees, and adjoining na- 
tional forest, and looping the old Spanish trail giving all 
the delights of safe bathing beach, hunting, fishing, boat- 
ing, riding, golf, etc, Freight and Passenger Steamer Serv- 
ice. Beautiful Appalachian scenic highway leads directly 
to Pensccola, one of Florida's most magnilicent cities. 
Lots average 50x 150, average elevation 16 feet, guaran- 
teed high, desirable for building. Now offered for three 
hundred to two thousand dollars with perfect title. Prices 
have quadrupled in 3 years and values are rapidly advanc- 
ing. Reasonable terms. 

These prices are a fraction of the cost of other Florida 
property. Buv now for a homesite or for investment. 
Write Immediately for information to T. V. Orr, Villa 
Tasso Lodge, Temporary Post Office, Bolton, Florida. 



An Ideal for Ton 

Undiscovered Florida 




FREE RAILROAD FARE 



Learn Electricity 

In 12 
IDeeks 



In the Great Shops of 




IMPORTANT NOTE: COYNE does not teach by correspondence 
but by practical, personal training in the great COYNE Shops 

lyf AKE ihis the most profitable and enjoyable season of that of the great Million Dollar Institution 1 bead, with il 

your life. Come 1o Chic;ie;o. on beautiful Lake Mich- 
igan, (he preiiU'si Sprint; ami Summer Rescirl Cily in the 
country ami the Oca test Electrical Center in the World. 
Twelve weeks from now y<>n e;m he an /■/.yfnVd/ l-.rpi-i! no 



Learn in Chicago, the 
Electrical Center of 

the world Kg^ssasia 

Center of Hie World. You 



::v.,'. ■ 1 vl .: i .".; 



Complete Electrical Training in 12 Weeks 



'Of El 



Sit 



alMac 



Great Summer Resort City 



IhPenuntry. Everi'll 

.■i.]i'lj»'it-j|,r:^:nnili.^'i'" 
,.|r,,n,;v.,l,.. .....:, ■„.,.■! 

You Don't Need Educatioi 
It malt. 



M.-0;vViMijf-;AKNVi\%\ iilysbe^behiYid^you." 

'wgeI^SO Meier.*" 



Earn W bile You Learn ' 

My Employment Department 

Ex- helps you net a job to earn a good 




Send Coupon NOW For my Bif 
New FREE Electrical Book 

■.. , :"v ■ ■ . ' ■ ■ ■■..■ : :■ 

if yen are not plannin 
don'tdclaya single mn 
away (or full details. .... 
Remember Coyne is a School with an estab- 
lished reputation. Endorsed by Electrical 
Industry. Backed by over a Quarter of a Cen- 
tury of Success. You owe it to yourself to 
investigate. Act NOW! 



y. S,-.,d,:- 



■ nrtsTllI 



SUCCESS COLPflV 



COYNE 



_JZJ 



■ < ", RJCAL SCHOOL 
1300-10 W. Harri"«n Street 

Dept.1304 ChicatEO, I 
Dear B.C.— 1 sure want One of tht 
some 12x!S books, with l.M rn-tiMl 
printed in two eoloif.Siiul it <|iii.'l 



I** 



ELECTRICAL SCHOOL 

Dept. not 1304-10 W. Harrison St., CHICAGO, ILL. 



fit plr 

■yy> '■■■' 



me all about the Free Railroad Fare and